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A Maker of History 

Guard this fur me,' she whispered." (page 148) 



A Maker of History 


E. Phillips Oppenheim 

Author of "The Master Mummer," "A Prince of Sinners,' 

" Mysterious Mr. Sabin," " Anna the Adventuress/' 


Illustrated from drawings by Fred Pegram 


Little, Brown, and Company 


Copyright, igoj, jgo6, 
By Little, Brown, and Company. 

All rights reserved 

Published January, 1906 





Chapter Page 

I. An Accidental Spy 1 

11. At the Cafe Montmartre 11 

III. A Mysterious Disappearance 18 

IV. The Falling of the Handkerchief . . 26 
V. Love at First Sight ........ 33 

VI. The Vanishing Lady 40 

VII. The Decoy-House of Europe 48 

VIII. " Duncombe's Hold-up" 55 

IX. The Story of a Call 64 

X. Spencer's Surprise 72 

XI. A Word of Warning 80 

XII. The Shadowing of Duncombe .... 87 

Xin. "Her Voice" 93 

XIV. Laughter of Women 101 

XV. Miss Fielding from America 107 

XVI. Miss Fielding asks a Question .... 115 

XVIL George Dunco^ibe's Lie 121 

XVIIL " Who are these People ? " 129 

XIX. A Hillside Encounter 137 

























Mr. Fielding in a New Role . . . . 143 

A Woman's Cry 151 

Lord Runton is Suspicious 160 

Her First Kiss 171 

The EMriY Room 179 


Guy Poynton again 185 

An Old Story 192 

A Body from the Seine 200 

The Insolence of Madame la Marquise 208 

The Interviewing of Phyllis .... 217 

The Blundering of Andrew 225 

Spencer gets his Chance 234 

A Political Interlude 243 

Arrested ! 251 

The Checkmating of Monsieur Louis . 259 

The Making of History 267 

Ax Old Friend 276 

A Newspaper Sensation 285 

The Man who saved his Country . . . 294 

A Merry Meeting 301 


*' ' Guard this for me,' she whispered" . . . Frontispiece 
*' ' Is it anything very interesting? '".... Page 12 
" He came and stood a few feet away from them " ,, 56 
*' 'Go and do your duty,' she commanded, laugh- 
ing" n 114 

'' Miss Fielding and the Baron were still together " ,,123 

^'Duncorabe started back. The girl half rose to 

her feet " ?? 1^7 

'''You are on the brink of making an idiot of 

j'ourself,' Duncombe answered quickly" . . ,, 229 

" His hands shook, his teeth chattered " . . . . 9,261 




THE boy sat up and rubbed his eyes. He was stiff, 
footsore, and a little chilly. There was no man- 
servant arranging his bath and clothes, no pleasant 
smell of coffee — none of the small luxuries to which 
he was accustomed. On the contrary, he had slept all 
night upon a bed of bracken, with no other covering 
than the stiff pine needles from the tall black trees, 
whose rustling music had lulled him to sleep. 

He sat up, and remembered suddenly where he was 
and how he had come there. He yawned, and was on 
the point of strugghng to his feet when he became 
aware of certain changed conditions in his surroundings. 
Some instinct, of simple curiosity perhaps, but of far- 
reaching effect, led him to crawl back into his hiding- 
place and watch. 

Last night, after many hours of painful walking, 
two things alone had impressed themselves upon his 
consciousness : the dark illimitable forest and the 
double line of rails, which with the absolute straight- 
ness of exact science had stretched behind and in 
front till the tree-tops in the far distance seemed to 
touch, and the rails themselves to vanish into the black 



heart of the close-growing pines. For miles he had 
limped along the painfully rough track without seeing 
the slightest sign of any break in the woods, or any 
human being. At last the desire for sleep had overtaken 
him. He was a hardy young Englishman, and a night 
out of doors in the middle of June under these odorous 
pines presented itself merely as a not disagreeable ad- 
venture. Five minutes after the idea had occurred to 
him he was asleep. 

And now in the gray morning he looked out upon a 
different scene. Scarcely a dozen yards from him stood 
a single travelling-coach of dark green, drawn by a 
heavy engine. At intervals of scarcely twenty paces up 
and down the line, as far as he could see, soldiers were 
stationed like sentries. They were looking sharpl}^ about 
in all directions, and he could even hear the footsteps 
of others crashing through the wood. From the train 
three or four men in long cloaks had already descended. 
They were standing in the track talking together. 

The young man behind the bracken felt himself in 
somewhat of a dilemma. There was a delightful 
smell of fresh coffee from the waiting coach, and there 
seemed to be not the slightest reason why he should 
not emerge from his hiding-place and claim the hospi- 
tality of these people. He was a quite harmless person, 
with proper credentials, and an adequate explanation 
of his presence there. On the other hand, the spirit 
of adventure natural to his years strongly prompted 
him to remain where he was and watch. He felt 
certain that something was going to happen. Besides, 
those soldiers had exactly the air of looking for some- 
body to shoot ! 

Whilst he was hesitating, something did happen. 


There was a shrill whistle, a puiBf of white smoke in the 
distance, and another train approached from the opposite 

It drew up within a few feet of the one which was 
already waiting. Almost immediately half a dozen 
men, who were already standing upon the platform of 
the car, descended. One of these approached rapidly, 
and saluted the central figure of those who had been 
talking together in the track. After a few moments' 
conversation these two, followed by one other man 
only who was carrying a writing portfolio, ascended 
the platform of the train which had arrived first and 
disappeared inside. 

The young man who was watching these proceedings 

" No duel, then ! " he muttered to himself. " I 've 
half a mind to go out." Then he caught sight of a 
particularly fierce-looking soldier with his finger already 
upon the trigger of his gun, and he decided to remain 
where he was. 

In about half an hour the two men reappeared on 
the platform of the car. Simultaneously the window 
of the carriage in which they had been sitting was 
opened, and the third man was visible, standing before 
a small table and arranging some papers. Suddenly he 
was called from outside. He thrust his hat upon the 
papers, and hastened to obey the summons. 

A little gust of breeze from the opening and closing 
of the door detached one of the sheets of paper from 
the restraining weight of the hat. It fluttered out of 
the window and lay for a moment upon the side of the 
track. No one noticed it, and in a second or two it 
fluttered underneath the clump of bracken behind 


which the young Englishman was hiding. He thrust 
out his hand and calmly secured it. 

In less than five minutes the place was deserted. 
Amidst many hasty farewells, wholly unintelligible to 
the watcher, the two groups of men separated and 
climbed into their respective trains. As soon as every 
one was out of sight the Englishman rose with a little 
grunt of satisfaction and stretched himself. 

He glanced first at the sheet of paper, and finding it 
written in German thrust it into his pocket. Then he 
commenced an anxious search for smoking materials, 
and eventually produced a pipe, a crumpled packet 
of tobacco, and two matches. 

" Thank Heaven ! " he exclaimed, lighting up. " And 
now for a tramp." 

He plodded steadily along the track for an hour or 
more. All the time he was in the heart of the forest. 
Pheasants and rabbits and squirrels continually crossed 
in front of him. Once a train passed, and an excited 
guard shouted threats and warnings, to which he replied 
in fluent but ineffective English. 

" Johnnies seem to think I 'm trespassing ! " he re- 
marked to himself in an aggrieved tone. " I can't help 
being on their beastly line ! " 

Tall, smooth-faced, and fair, he walked with the long 
step and lightsome grace of the athletic young English- 
man of his day. He was well dressed in tweed clothes, 
cut by a good tailor, a little creased by his night out of 
doors, but otherwise immaculate. He hiunmed a pop- 
ular air to himself, and held his head high. If only he 
were not so hungry. 

Then he came to a station. It was little more than 
a few rows of planks, with a chalet at one end — but a 


very welcome sight confronted him. A little pile of 
luggage, with his initials, G. P., was on the end of the 
platform nearest to him. 

" That conductor was a sensible chap," he exclaimed. 
" Glad I tipped him. Hullo ! " 

The station-master, in uniform, came hurrying out. 
The young Englishman took off his hat, and produced 
a phrase book from his pocket. He ignored the stream 
of words which the station-master, with many gesticula- 
tions, was already pouring out. 

" My luggage," he said firmly, laying one hand upon 
the pile, and waving the phrase book. 

The station-master acquiesced heartily. He waxed 
eloquent again, but the Englishman was busy with the 
phrase book. 

« Hungry ! Hotel ? " he attempted. 

The station-master pointed to where the smoke was 
curling upwards from a score or so of houses about half a 
mile distant. The Englishman was getting pleased with 
himself. Outside was a weird-looking carriage, and on 
the box seat, fast asleep, was a very fat man in a shiny hat, 
ornamented by a bunch of feathers. He pointed to the 
luggage, then to the cab, and finally to the village. 

" Luggage, hotel, carriage ! " he suggested. 

The station-master beamed all over. With a shout, 
which must have reached the village, he awakened the 
sleeping man. In less than five minutes the English- 
man and his luggage were stored away in the carriage. 
His ticket had been examined by the station-master, 
and smilingly accepted. There were more bows and 
salutes, and the carriage drove off. Mr. Guy Poynton 
leaned back amongst the mouldy leather upholstery, 
and smiled complacently. 


"Easiest thing in the world to get on in a foreign 
country with a phrase book and your wits," he re- 
marked to himself. "Jove, I am hungry!" 

He drove into a village of half a dozen houses or so, 
which reminded him of the pictured abodes of Noah 
and his brethren. An astonished innkeeper, whose 
morning attire apparently consisted of trousers, shirt, 
and spectacles, ushered him into a bare room with a 
trestle table. Guy produced his phrase book. 

" Hungr}^ I " he said vociferously. " Want to eat ! 

The man appeared to miderstand, but in case there 
should have been any mistake Guy followed him into 
the kitchen. The driver, who had lost no time, was 
already there, with a long glass of beer before him. 
Guy produced a mark, laid it on the table, touched 
himself, the innkeeper, and the driver, and pointed to 
the beer. The innkeeper understood, and the beer was 

The driver, who had been of course ludicrously over- 
paid, settled down in his corner, and announced his 
intention of seeing through to the end this most 
extraordinary and Heaven-directed occurrence. The 
innkeeper and his wife busied themselves with the 
breakfast, and Guy made remarks every now and then 
from his phrase book, which were usually incompre- 
hensible, except when they concerned a further supply 
of beer. With a brave acceptance of the courtesies of 
the country he had accepted a cigar from the driver, 
and was already contemplating the awful moment when 
he would have to light it. Just then an interruption 

It was something very official, but whether military 


or of the police Guy could not tell. It strode into the 
room with clanking of spurs, and the driver and inn- 
keeper alike stood up in respect. It saluted Guy. Guy 
took off his hat. Then there came words, but Guy was 
busy with his phrase book. 

" I cannot a word of German speak ! " he announced 
at last. 

A deadlock ensued. The innkeeper and the driver 
rushed into the breach. Conversation became furious. 
Guy took advantage of the moment to slip the cigar 
into his pocket, and to light a cigarette. Finally, the 
officer swimg himself round, and departed abruptly. 

" Dolmetscher," the driver announced to him tri- 

" Dolmetscher," the innkeeper repeated. 

Guy turned it up in his phrase book, and found that 
it meant interpreter. He devoted himself then to stim- 
ulating the preparations for breakfast. 

The meal was ready at last. There were eggs and 
ham and veal, dark-colored bread, and coffee, sufficient 
for about a dozen people. The driver constituted him- 
self host, and Guy, with a shout of laughter, sat down 
where he was, and ate. In the midst of the meal 
the officer reappeared, ushering in a small wizened-faced 
individual of unmistakably English appearance. Guy 
turned round in his chair, and the newcomer touched 
his forelock. 

" Hullo ! " Guy exclaimed. « You 're English ! " 

" Yes, sir I " the man answered. " Came over to train 
polo ponies for the Prince of Haepsburg. Not in any 
trouble, I hope, sir?" 

"Not I," Guy answered cheerily. "Don't mind my 
going on with my breakfast, do you? What's it all 


about ? Who 's the gentleman with the fireman's helmet 
on, and what 's he worrying about ? " 

" He is an officer of the police, sir, on special service," 
the man answered. " You have been reported for tres- 
passing on the State railway this morning." 

" Trespassing be blowed 1 " Guy answered. " I 've got 
my ticket for the frontier. We were blocked by signal 
about half a dozen miles off this place, and I got down 
to stretch my legs. I understood them to say that we 
could not go on for half an hour or so. They never 
tried to stop my getting down, and then off they went 
without any warning, and left me there." 

" I will translate to the officer, sir," the man said. 

" Eight 1 " Guy declared. " Go ahead." 

There was a brisk colloquy between the two. Then 
the little man began again. 

"He says that your train passed here at midnight, 
and that you did not arrive until past six." 

" Quite right ! " Guy admitted. " I went to sleep. I 
didn't know how far it was to the station, and I was 
dead tired." 

" The officer wishes to know whether many trains 
passed you in the night?" 

"Can't say," Guy answered. "I sleep very soundly, 
and I never opened my eyes after the first few minutes." 

" The officer wishes to know whether you saw any- 
thing unusual upon the line?" the little man asked. 

" Nothing at all," Guy answered coolly. " Bit inquisi- 
tive, is n't he ? " 

The little man came closer to the table. 

"He wishes to see your passport, sir," he announced. 

Guy handed it to him, also a letter of credit and 
several other documents. 


"He wants to know why you were going to the 
frontier, sir ! " 

"Sort of fancy to say that I'd been in Eussia, 
that's aU!" Guy answered. "You tell him I'm a 
perfectly harmless individual Never been abroad 

The officer listened, and took notes in his pocketbook 
of the passport and letter of credit. Then he departed 
with a formal salute, and they heard his horse's hoofs 
ring upon the road outside as he galloped away. The 
little man came close up to the table. 

" You 'U excuse me, sir," he said, " but you seem to 
have upset the officials very much by being upon the 
line last night. There have been some rumors going 
about — but perhaps you 're best not to know that. 
May I give you a word of advice, sir ? " 

" Let me give you one," Guy declared. " Try this 
beer ! " 

" I thank you, sir," the man answered. " I will do 
so with pleasure. But if you are really an ordinary 
tourist, sir, — as I have no doubt you are, — let this 
man drive you to Streuen, and take the train for the 
Austrian frontier. You may save yourself a good deal 
of unpleasantness." 

" I '11 do it ! " Guy declared. " Vienna was the next 
place I was going to, anyhow. You tell the fellow 
where to take me, will you ? " 

The man spoke rapidly to the driver. 

" I think that you will be followed, sir," he added, 
turning to Guy, "but very likely they won't interfere 
with you. The railway last night for twenty miles 
back was held up for State purposes. We none of us 
know why, and it does n't do to be too curious over 

10 A :maker of history 

here, but they have an idea that you are either a 
journalist or a spy." 

" Civis Britannicus sum ! " the boy answered, with a 

" It does n't quite niean*what it used to, sir," the man 
answered quietly. 



EXACTLY a week later, at five minutes after mid- 
night, Guy Poynton, in evening dress, entered 
the Caf^ Montmartre, in Paris. He made his way 
through the heterogeneous little crowd of men and 
women who were drinking at the bar, past the scarlet- 
coated orchestra, into the inner room, where the tables 
were laid for supper. Monsieur Albert, satisfied with 
the appearance of his new client, led him at once to a 
small table, submitted the wine card, and summoned a 
waiter. With some difficulty, as his French was very 
little better than his German, he ordered supper, and 
then lighting a cigarette, leaned back against the wall 
and looked around to see if he could discover any 
English or Americans. 

The room was only moderately full, for the hour was 
a little early for this quarter of Paris. Nevertheless, he 
was quick to appreciate a certain spirit of Bohemianism 
which pleased him. Every one talked to his neighbor. 
An American from the further end of the room raised 
his glass and drank his health. A pretty fair-haired 
girl leaned over from her table and smiled at him. 

" Monsieur like talk with me, eh ? " 

"English?" he asked. 

"No. DeWien!" 

He shook his head smilingly. 


" We should n't get on," he declared. " Can't speak 
the language." 

She raised her eyebrows with a protesting gesture, 
but he looked away and opened an illustrated paper 
by his side. He turned over the pages idly enough at 
first, but suddenly paused. He whistled softly to him- 
self and stared at the two photograjjhs which fiUed the 

" By Jove !" he said softly to himself. 

There was the rustling of skirts close to his table. 
An unmistakably English voice addressed him. 

" Is it anything very interesting ? Do show me ! " 

He looked up. Mademoiselle Elossie, pleased with 
his appearance, had paused on her way down the 

" Come and sit down, and I '11 show it you ! " he said, 
rising. " You 're English, are n't you ? " 

Mademoiselle Flossie waved a temporary adieu to 
her friends and accepted the invitation. He poured her 
out a glass of wine. 

" Stay and have supper with me," he begged. " I 
must be off soon, but I'm tired of being alone. This 
is my last night, thank goodness." 

" All right ! " she answered gayly. " I must go back 
to my friends directly afterwards." 

"Order what you like," he begged. "I can't make 
these chaps understand me." 

She laughed, and called the waiter. 

" And now show me what you were looking at in that 
paper," she insisted. 

He pointed to the two photographs. 

" I saw those two together only a week ago," he said. 
" Want to hear about it ? " 

Is there anything very interesting?'" 

IP age 12 


She looked startled for a moment, and a little in- 

" Yes, go on ! " she said. 

He told her the story. She listened with an interest 
which surprised him. Once or twice when he looked up 
he fancied that the lady from Vienna was also doing 
her best to listen. When he had finished their supper 
had arrived. 

"I think," she said, as she helped herself to hors 
d'cBuvrCy "that you were very fortunate to get away." 

He laughed carelessly. 

" The joke of it is," he said, " I 've been followed all 
the way here. One fellow, who pretended he got in at 
Strasburg, was trying to talk to me all the time, but I 
saw him sneak in at Vienna, and I was n't having any. 
I say, do you come here every evening ? " 

" Very often," she answered. " I dance at the Comique, 
and then we generally go to Maxim's to supper, and 
up here afterwards. " I '11 introduce you to my friends 
afterwards, if you like, and we'll all sit together. If 
you're very good I'll dance to you!" 

"Delighted," he answered, "if they speak English. 
I 'm sick of trying to make people understand my rotten 

She nodded. 

"They speak English all right. I wish that horrid 
Viennese girl would n't try to listen to every word we 

He smiled. 

"She wanted me to sit at her table," he re- 

Mademoiselle Flossie looked at him warningly, and 
dropped her voice. 


" Better be careful ! " she whispered. " They say she 's 
a spy!" 

" On my track very likely," he declared with a grin. 

She threw herself back in her seat and laughed. 

" Conceited ! Why should any one want to be on 
your track ? Come and see me dance at the Comique 
to-morrow night." 

" Can't," he declared. " My sister 's coming over from 


" Oh, I '11 come one night," he declared. " Order some 
cofifee, won't you — and what liqueurs ? " 

" 1 11 go and fetch my friends," she declared, rising. 
"We'll all have coffee together." 

" Who are they ? " he asked. 

She pointed to a little group down the room — two 
men and a woman. The men were French, one middle- 
aged and one young, dark, immaculate, and with the 
slightly bored air affected by young Frenchmen of 
fashion; the woman was strikingly handsome and 
magnificently dressed. They were quite the most dis- 
tinguished-looking people in the room. 

" If you think they '11 come," he remarked doubtfully. 
" Are n't we rather comfortable as we are ? " 

She made her way between the tables. 

" Oh, they 11 come," she declared. " They 're pals ! " 

She floated down the room with a cigarette in her 
mouth, very graceful in her airy muslin skirts and large 
hat. Guy followed her admiringly with his eyes. The 
Viennese lady suddenly tore off a comer of her menu 
and scribbled something quickly. She passed it over 
to Guy. 

" Eead ! " she said imperatively. 


He nodded, and opened it. 

" Prenez garde ! " he said slowly. Then he looked at 
her and shook his head. She was making signs to him 
to destroy her message, and he at once did so. 

" Don't miderstand ! " he said. " Sorry ! " 

Mademoiselle Flossie was laughing and talking with 
her friends. Presently they rose, and came across the 
room with her. Guy stood up and bowed. The intro- 
ductions were informal, but he felt his insular prejudices 
a little shattered by the delightful ease with which these 
two Frenchmen accepted the situation. Their breeding 
was as obvious as their honliomie. The table was speed- 
ily rearranged to find places for them all. 

" Your friends will take coffee with me, Mademoiselle," 
Guy said. "Do be hostess, please. My attempts at 
French will only amuse everybody." 

The elder of the two Frenchmen, whom the waiter 
addressed as Monsieur le Baron, and every one else as 
Louis, held up his hand. 

" With pleasure ! " he declared, " later on. Just now 
it is too early. We will celebrate V entente cordiale. 
Gargon, a magnum of Pommery, un neu frappe/ I 
know you will forgive the liberty," he said, smiling at 
Guy. " This bottle is vowed. Flossie has smiled for 
the first time for three evenings." 

She threw a paper fan at him, and sat down again 
by^ Guy. 

"Do tell" him the story you told me," she whispered in 
his ear. " Louis, listen ! " 

Guy retold his story. Monsieur le Baron listened 
intently. So did the lady who had accompanied him. 
Guy felt that he told it very well, but for the second 
time he omitted all mention of that missing sheet of 


paper which had come into his possession. Monsieur 
le Baron was obviously much interested. 

" You are quite sure — of the two men ? " he asked 

" Quite 1 " Guy answered confidently. " One was 

Madame — Flossie's friend — dropped a wineglass. 
Monsieur le Baron raised his hand. 

" No names," he said. " It is better not. We under- 
stand. A most interesting adventure, Monsieur Poynton, 
and — to your health ! " 

The wine was good, and the fun of the place itself 
went almost to the head. Always there were new- 
comers who passed down the room amidst a chorus of 
greetings, always the gayest of music. Then amidst 
cheers Flossie and another friend whom she called 
from a distant table danced a cake-walk — danced very 
gracefully, and with a marvellous display of rainbow 
skirts. She came back breathless, and threw herself 
down by Guy's side. 

" Give me some more wine ! " she panted. " How 
close the place is ! " 

The younger Frenchman, who had scarcely spoken, 
leaned over. 

" An idea ! " he exclaimed. " My automobile is out- 
side. I will drive you all round the city. Monsieur 
Poynton shall see Paris undressed. Afterwards we will 
go to Louis' rooms and make his man cook us a dejeuner 

Flossie stood up and laughed. 

" Who '11 lend me a coat ? " she cried. " I 've nothing 
but a lace mantle." 

" Plenty of Frenchmen in the car," the young French- 


man cried. "Are we all agreed? Good! Gargon, 
V addition ! " 

" And mine," Guy ordered. 

The women departed for their wraps. Guy and the 
two Frenchmen filled their pockets with cigarettes. 
When the bills came Guy found that his own was a 
trifle, and Monsieur Louis waved aside all protest. 

*'We are hosts to-night, my young friend," he de- 
clared with charming insistence. "Another time you 
shall have your turn. You must come round to the 
club to-morrow, and we will arrange for some sport. 
Allons ! " 

They crowded out together amidst a chorus of fare- 
wells. Guy took Flossie's arm going down the stairs. 

" I say, I 'm awfully obliged to you for introducing me 
to your friends," he declared. " I 'm having a ripping 

She laughed. 

" Oh, they 're all right," she declared. " Mind my 
skirts ! " 

" I say, what does ' prenez garde ' mean ? " he asked. 

«*Take care.' Why?" 

He laughed again. 




" ivr^^'^^^^^^^^^'" ^^^ ^^^°? ^^^ ^^^^' ^^^^^ ^^ 

XtX air of somewhat weary politeness, " I regret to 
say that there is nothing more to be done ! " 

He was grieved and polite because Mademoiselle 
was beautiful and in trouble. For the rest he was a 
little tired of her. Brothers of twenty-one, who have 
never been in Paris before, and cannot speak the 
language, must occasionally get lost, and the Brit- 
ish Embassy is not exactly a transported Scotland 

"Then," she declared, with a vigorous little stamp 
of her shapely foot, "I don't see what we keep an 
Ambassador here for at all — or any of you. It is 
scandalous 1 " 

The Hon. Nigel Fergusson dropped his eyeglass and 
surveyed the young lady attentively. 

" My dear Miss Poynton," he said, " I will not pre- 
sume to argue with you. We are here, I suppose, for 
some purpose or other. Whether we fulfil it or not 
may well be a matter of opinion. But that purpose 
is certainly not to look after any young idiot — 
you must excuse my speaking plainly — who runs 
amuck in this most fascinating city. In your case 
the Chief has gone out of his way to help you. He 
has interviewed the chief of police himself, brought 
his influence to bear in various quarters, and I can 


tell you conscientiously that eveiy^thing which possibly 
can be done is being done at the present moment. If 
you wish for my advice it is this: Send for some 
friend to keep you company here, and try to be patient. 
You are in all probability making yourself needlessly 

She looked at him a little reproachfully. He noticed, 
however, with secret joy that she was drawing on her 

" Patient ! He was to meet me here ten days ago. 
He arrived at the hotel. His clothes are all there, 
and his bill unpaid. He went out the night of his 
arrival, and has never returned. Patient! Well, I 
am much obliged to you, Mr. Fergusson. I have no 
doubt that you have done all that your duty required. 
Good afternoon!" 

"Good afternoon. Miss Po}Titon, and don't be too 
despondent. Remember that the French police are the 
cleverest in the world, and they are working for you." 

She looked up at him scornfully. 

"Police, indeed!" she answered. "Do you know 
that all they have done so far is to keep sending for 
me to go and look at dead bodies down at the Morgue ? 
I think that I shall send over for an English detective." 

" You might do worse," he answered ; " but in any 
case. Miss Poynton, I do hope that you will send over 
for some friend or relation to keep you company. 
Paris is scarcely a fit place for you to be alone and 
in trouble." 

" Thank you," she said. " I will remember what you 
have said." 

The young man watched her depart with a curious 
mixture of relief and regret. 


" The young fool 's been the usual round, I suppose, 
and he *s either too much ashamed of himself or too 
besotted to turn up. I wish she was n't quite so devil- 
ish good-looking," he remarked to himself. " If she 
goes about alone she '11 get badly scared before she 's 

Phyllis Poynton drove straight back to her hotel 
and went to her room. A sympathetic chambermaid 
followed her in. 

" Mademoiselle has news yet of her brother ? " she 

Mademoiselle shook her head. Indeed her face was 
sufficient answer. 

" None at all, Marie." 

The chambermaid closed the door. 

"It would help Mademoiselle, perhaps, if she knew 
where the young gentleman spent the evening before 
he disappeared?" she inquired mysteriously. 

" Of course ! That is just what I want to find out." 

Marie smiled. 

" There is a young man here in the barber's shop, 
Mademoiselle," she announced. "He remembers Mon- 
sieur Poynton quite well. He went in there to be 
shaved, and he asked some questions. I think if Mad- 
emoiselle were to see him ! " 

The girl jumped up at once. 

" Do you know his name ? " she asked. 

" Monsieur Alphonse, they call him. He is on duty 

Phillis Poynton descended at once to the ground 
floor of the hotel, and pushed open the glass door which 
led into the coiffeur's shop. Monsieur Alphonse was 
waiting upon a customer, and she was given a chair. In 


a few minutes he descended the spiral iron staircase and 
desired to know Mademoiselle's pleasure. 

" You speak English ? " she asked. 

" But certainly, Mademoiselle." 

She gave a little sigh of relief. 

" I wonder," she said, " if you remember waiting upon 
my brother last Thursday week. He was tall and 
fair, and something like me. He had just arrived in 

Monsieur Alphonse smiled. He rarely forgot a face, 
aud the young Englishman's tip had been munificent. 

" Perfectly, Mademoiselle," he answered. " They sent 
for me because Monsieur spoke no French." 

" My chambermaid, Marie, told me that you might 
perhaps know how he proposed to spend the evening," 
she continued. " He was quite a stranger in Paris, aud 
he may have asked for some information." 

Monsieur Alphonse smiled, and extended his hands. 

" It is quite true," he answered. " He asked me 
where to go, and I say to the Folies Berg^res. Then 
he said he had heard a good deal of the supper caf^s, and 
he asked me which was the most amusing. I tell him 
the Caf^ Montmartre. He wrote it down." 

" Do you think that he meant to go there ? " she asked. 

"But certainly. He promised to come and tell me 
the next day how he amused himself." 

" The Caf^ Montmartre. Where is it ? " she asked. 

" In the Place de Montmartre. But Mademoiselle 
pardons — she will understand that it is a place for 

" Are women not admitted ? " she asked. 

Alphonse smiled. 

"But — yes. Only Mademoiselle understands that 


if a lady should go there she would need to be very well 

She rose and slipped a coin into his hand. 

" I am very much obliged to you," she said. " By 
the bye, have any other people made inquiries of you 
concerning my brother ? " 

" No one at all. Mademoiselle ! " the man answered. 

She almost slammed the door behind when she went 

" And they say that the French police are the clever- 
est in the world," she exclaimed indignantly. 

Monsieur Alphonse watched her through the glass 

" Ciel ! But she is pretty ! " he murmured to him- 

She turned into the writing-room, and taking off her 
gloves she wrote a letter. Her pretty fingers were 
innocent of rings, and her handwriting was a little 
shaky. Nevertheless, it is certain that not a man 
passed through the room who did not find an excuse 
to steal a second glance at her. This is what she 
wrote : — 

" My dear Andrew, — I am in great distress here, 
and very unhappy. I should have written to you be- 
fore, but I know that you have your own trouble to 
bear just now, and I hated to bother you. I arrived here 
punctually on the date arranged upon between Guy and 
myself, and found that he had arrived the night before, 
and had engaged a room for me. He was out when I 
came. I changed ray clothes and sat down to wait for 
him. He did not return. I made inquiries and found that 


he had left the hotel at eight o'clock the previous even- 
ing. To cut the matter short, ten days have now- 
elapsed and he has not yet returned. 

" I have been to the Embassy, to the police, and to the 
Morgue. Nowhere have I found the slightest trace of 
him. No one seems to take the least interest in his dis- 
appearance. The police shrug their shoulders, and look at 
me as though I ought to understand — he will return 
very shortly they are quite sure. At the Embassy 
they have begun to look upon me as a nuisance. The 
Morgue — Heaven send that I may one day forget the 
horror of my hasty visits there. I have come to the 
conclusion, Andrew, that I must search for him myself. 
How, I do not know ; where, I do not know. But I 
shall not leave Paris until I have found him. 

"Andrew, what I want is a friend here. A few 
months ago I should not have hesitated a moment to ask 
you to come to me. To-day that is impossible. Your 
presence here would only be an embarrassment to both 
of us. Do you know of any one who would come ? I 
have not a single relative whom I can ask to help me. 
Would you advise me to write to Scotland Yard for a 
detective, or go to one of these agencies ? If not, can 
you think of any one who would come here and help 
me, either for your sake as your friend, or, better still, 
a detective who can speak French and whom one can 
trust ? All our lives Guy and I have congratulated our- 
selves that we have no relation nearer than India. I 
am finding out the other side of it now. 

" I know that you will do what you can for me, An- 
drew. Write to me by return, 

" Yours in great trouble and distress, 

" Phyllis Poynton." 


She sealed and addressed her letter, and saw it de- 
spatched. Afterwards she crossed the courtyard to the 
restaurant, and did her best to eat some dinner. Wlien 
she had finished it was only half-past eight. She rang 
for the lift and ascended to the fourth floor. On her 
way down the corridor a sudden thought struck her. 
She took a key from her pocket and entered the room 
which her brother had occupied. 

His things were still lying about in some disorder, and 
neither of his trunks was locked. She went down on her 
knees and calmly proceeded to go through his belong- 
ings. It was rather a forlorn hope, but it seemed to her 
just possible that there might be in some of his pockets 
a letter which would throw light upon his disappearance. 
She found nothing of the sort, however. There were 
picture postcards, a few photographs, and a good many 
restaurant bills, but they were all from places in Ger- 
many and Austria. At the bottom of the second trunk, 
however, she found something which he had evidently 
considered it worth while to preserve carefully. It was 
a thick sheet of official-looking paper, bearing at the top 
an embossed crown, and covered with German writing. 
It was numbered at the top " seventeen," and it was 
evidently an odd sheet of some document. She folded 
it carefully up, and took it back with her to her own 
room. Then, with the help of a German dictionary, she 
commenced to study it. At the end of an hour she had 
made out a rough translation, which she read carefully 
through. When she had finished she was thoroughly 
perplexed. She had an uncomfortable sense of having 
come into touch with something wholly unexpected and 

"What am I to do ? " she said to herself softly. 


"What can it mean? Where on earth can Guy — 
have found this ? " 

There was no one to answer her, no one to advise. An 
overwhelming sense of her own loneliness brought the 
tears into her eyes. She sat for some time with her 
face buried in her hands. Then she rose up, calmly 
destroyed her translation with minute care, and locked 
away the mysterious sheet at the bottom of her dressing- 
bag. The more she thought of it the less, after all, she 
felt inclined to connect it with his disappearance. 



MONSIEUE ALBERT looked over her shoulder for 
the man who must surely be in attendance — but 
he looked in vain. 

" Mademoiselle wishes a table — for herself alone 1 " 
he repeated doubtfully. 

"If you please," she answered. 

It was obvious that Mademoiselle was of the class 
which does not frequent night caf^s alone, but after 
all that was scarcely Monsieur Albert's concern. She 
came perhaps from that strange land of the free, whose 
daughters had long ago kicked over the barriers of 
sex with the same abandon that Mademoiselle Flossie 
would display the soles of her feet a few hours later in 
their national dance. If she had chanced to raise her 
veil no earthly persuasions on her part would have 
secured for her the freedom of that little room, for 
Monsieur Albert's appreciation of likeness was equal to 
his memory for faces. But it was not until she was 
comfortably ensconced at a corner table, from which she 
had a good view of the room, that she did so, and Mon- 
sieur Albert realized with a philosophic shrug of the 
shoulders the error he had committed. 

Phyllis looked about her with some curiosity. It was 
too early for the habitues of the place, and most of the 
tables were empty. The scarlet-coated band were smok- 
ing cigarettes, and had not yet produced their instru- 


ments. The conductor curled his black moustache 
stared hard at the beautiful young English lady, wi^ 
out, however, being able to attract a single glance in 
return. One or two men also tried to convey to her by 
smiles and glances the fact that her solitude need con- 
tinue no longer than she chose. The unattached ladies 
put their heads together and discussed her with little 
peals of laughter. To all of these things she remained 
indifferent. She ordered a supper which she ate me- 
chanically, and wine which she scarcely drank. All the 
while she was considering. Now that she was here what 
could she do ? Of whom was she to make inquuies ? 
She scanned the faces of the newcomers with a cer- 
tain grave curiosity which puzzled them. She neither 
invited nor repelled notice. She remained entnely at 
her ease. 

Monsieur Albert, during one of his peregrinations 
round the room, passed close to her table. She stopped 

"I trust that Mademoiselle is well served!" he re- 
marked with a little bow. 

" Excellently, I thank you," she answered. 

He would have passed on, but she detained him. 

"You have very many visitors here," she remarked. 
" Is it the same always ? " 

He smiled. 

"To-night," he declared, "it is nothing. There are 
many who come here every evening. They amuse 
themselves here." 

" You have a good many strangers also ? " she asked. 

" But certainly," he declared, " All the time I " 

" I have a brother," she said, " who was here eleven 
nights ago — let me see — that would be last Tuesday 


week. He is tall and fair, about twenty-one, and they 
say like me. I wonder if you remember him." 

Monsieur Albert shook his head slowly. 

" That is strange," he declared, " for as a rule I forget 
no one. Last Tuesday week I remember perfectly well. 
It was a quiet evening. La Scala was here — but of the 
rest no one. If Mademoiselle's brother was here it is 
most strange." 

Her lip quivered for a moment. She was disappointed. 

" I am so sorry," she said. " I hoped that you might 
have been able to help me. He left the Grand Hotel 
on that night with the intention of coming here — and 
he never returned. I have been very much worried 
ever since." 

She was no great judge of character, but Monsieur 
Albert's sympathy did not impress her with its sincerity. 

"If Mademoiselle desires," he said, "I will make 
inquiries amongst the waiters. I very much fear, how- 
ever, that she will obtain no news here." 

He departed, and Phyllis watched him talking to 
some of the waiters and the leader of the orchestra. 

Presently he returned. 

" I am very sorry," he announced, " but the brother of 
Mademoiselle could not have come here. I have in- 
quired of the garcons, and of Monsieur Jules there, who 
forgets no one. They answer all the same." 

" Thank you very much," she answered. " It must 
have been somewhere else!" 

She was unreasonably disappointed. It had been a very 
slender chance, but at least it was something tangible. She 
had scarcely expected to have it snapped so soon and so 
thoroughly. She dropped her veil to hide the tears which 
she felt were not far from her eyes, and summoned 


the waiter for her bill. There seemed to be no object 
in staying longer. Suddenly the unexpected happened. 

A hand, flashing with jewels, was rested for a mo- 
ment upon her table. When it was withdrawn a scrap 
of paper remained there. 

Phyllis looked up in amazement. The girl to whom 
the hand had belonged was sitting at the next table, 
but her head was turned away, and she seemed to be 
only concerned in watching the door. She drew the 
scrap of paper towards her and cautiously opened it. 
This is what she read, written in English, but with a 
foreign turn to most of the letters : — 

"Monsieur Albert lied. Your brother was here. 
"Wait till I speak to you." 

Instinctively she crumpled up this strange little note 
in her hand. She struggled hard to maintain her com- 
posure. She had at once the idea that every one in the 
place was looking at her. Monsieur Albert, indeed, on 
his way down the room wondered what had driven the 
hopeless expression from her face. 

The waiter brought her bill. She paid it and tipped 
him with prodigality which for a woman was almost 
reckless. Then she ordered coffee, and after a sec- 
ond's hesitation cigarettes. Why not ? Nearly all the 
women were smoking, and she desired to pass for the 
moment as one of them. For the first time she ventured 
to gaze at her neighbor. 

It was the young lady from Vienna. She was dressed 
in a wonderful demi-toilette of white lace, and she wore 
a large picture hat adjusted at exactly the right angle 
for her profile. From her throat and bosom there 
flashed the sparkle of many gems — the finger which 
held her cigarette was ablaze with diamonds. She leaned 


back in her seat smoking lazily, and she met Phyllis's 
furtive gaze with almost insolent coldness. But a mo- 
ment later, when Monsieur Albert's back was turned, 
she leaned forward and addressed her rapidly. 

"A man will come here," she said, "who could tell 
you, if he was willing, all that you seek to know. He 
will come to-night — he comes all the nights. You will 
see I hold my handkerchief so in my right hand. When 
he comes I shall drop it — so ! " 

The gui's swift speech, her half-fearful glances 
towards the door, puzzled Phyllis. 

" Can you not come nearer to me and talk ? " she 

" No ! You must not speak to me again. You must 
not let any one, especially the man himself, know what 
I have told you. No more now. Watch for the hand- 
kerchief ! " 

" But what shall I say to him ? " 

The girl took no notice of her. She was looking 
in the opposite direction. She seemed to have edged 
away as far as possible from her. Phyllis drew a long 

She felt her heart beating with excitement. The 
place suddenly seemed to her like part of a nightmare. 

And then all was clear again. Fortune was on her 
side. The secret of Guy's disappearance was in this 
room, and a few careless words from the girl at the next 
table had told her more than an entire police system 
had been able to discover. But why the mystery? 
What was she to say to the man when he came ? The 
girl from Vienna was talking to some friends and toy- 
ing carelessly with a little morsel of lace which she had 
drawn from her bosom. Phyllis watched it with the 


eyes of a cat. Every now and then she watched also 
the door. 

The place was much fuller now. Mademoiselle 
Flossie had arrived with a small company of friends 
from Maxim's. The music was playing all the time. 
The popping of corks was almost incessant, the volume 
of sound had swelled. The laughter and greeting of 
friends betrayed more abandon than earlier in the even- 
ing. Old acquaintances had been renewed, and new 
ones made. Mademoiselle from Vienna was surrounded 
by a little circle of admirers. Still she held in her right 
hand a crumpled up little ball of lace. 

Men passing down the room tried to attract the atten- 
tion of the beautiful young English demoiselle who 
looked out upon the little scene so indifferently as re- 
garded individuals, and yet with such eager interest as 
a whole. No one was bold enough, however, to make a 
second effort. Necessity at times gives birth to a swift 
capacity. Fresh from her simple country life, Phyllis 
found herself still able with effortless serenity to con- 
found the most hardened boulevarders who paused to 
ogle her. Her eyes and lips expressed with ease the 
most convincing and absolute indifference to their ap- 
proaches. A man may sometimes brave anger ; he rarely 
has courage to combat indifference. So Phyllis held her 
own and waited. 

And at last the handkerchief fell. Phyllis felt her 
own Heart almost stop beating, as she gazed down the 
room. A man of medium height, dark, distinguished, 
was slowly approaching her, exchanging greetings on 
every side. His languid eyes fell upon Phyllis. Those 
who had watched her previously saw then a change. 
The cold indifference had vanished from her face. She 


leaned forward as though anxious to attract his atten- 
tion. She succeeded easily enough. 

He was almost opposite her' table, and her half smile 
seemed to leave him but little choice. He touched the 
back of the chair which fronted hers, and took off his 

" Mademoiselle permits ? " he asked softly. 

" But certainly," she answered. " It is you for whom 
I have been waiting ! " 

" Mademoiselle flatters me ! " he murmured, more 
than a little astonished. 

" jSTot in the least," she answered. " I have been wait- 
ing to ask you what has become of my brother — Guy 
Poynton ! " 

He drew out the chair and seated himself. His eyes 
never left her face. 

" Mademoiselle," he murmured, " this is most extraor- 
dinary ! " 

She noticed then that his hands were trembling. 



" T AM asking a great deal of you, George ! I know 

I it. But you see how helpless I am — and read 
the letter — read it for yourself." 

He passed Phyllis's letter across the small round dining- 
table. His guest took it and read it carefully through. 

" How old is the young lady ? " he asked. 

« Twenty-three ! " 

« And the boy ? " 

" Twenty-one." 

" Orphans, I think you said ? " 

" Orphans and relationless." 

"WeU off?" 

" Moderately." 

Buncombe leaned back in his chair and sipped his 
port thoughtfully, 

" It is an extraordinary situation ! " he remarked. 

" Extraordinary indeed," his friend assented. " But so 
far as I am concerned you can see how I am fixed. I 
am older than either of them, but I have always been 
their nearest neighbor and their most intimate friend. 
If ever they have needed advice they have come to me 
for it. If ever I have needed a day's shooting for myself 
or a friend I have gone to them. This Continental tour 
of theirs we discussed and planned out, months before- 
hand. If my misfortune had not come on just when it 
did I should have gone with them, and even up to the 



last we hoped that I might be able to go to Paris with 

Duncombe nodded. 

" Tell me about the boy," he said. 

His host shrugged his shoulders. 

"You know what they're like at that age," he re- 
marked. " He was at Harrow, but he shied at college, 
and there was no one to insist upon his going. The 
pair of them had only a firm of lawyers for guar- 
dians. He 's just a good-looking, clean-minded, high- 
spirited young fellow, full of beans, and needing the 
bit every now and then. But, of course, he 's no dif- 
ferent from the run of young fellows of his age, and 
if an adventure came his way I suppose he'd see it 

" And the girl ? " 

Andrew Pelham rose from his seat. 

" I will show you her photograph," he said. 

He passed into an inner room divided from the 
dining-room by curtains. In a moment or two he 

" Here it is ! " he said, and laid a picture upon the 

Now Duncombe was a young man who prided him- 
self a little on being unimpressionable. He took up the 
picture with a certain tolerant interest and examined it, 
at first VTithout any special feeling. Yet in a moment 
or two he felt himself grateful for those great disfigur- 
ing glasses from behind which his host was temporarily, 
at least, blind to all that passed. A curious disturbance 
seemed to have passed into his blood. He felt his eyes 
brighten, and his breath come a little quicker, as he 
unconsciously created in his imagination the living 


presentment of the girl whose picture he was still hold- 
ing. Tall she was, and slim, with a soft, white throat, 
and long, graceful neck; eyes rather darker than her 
complexion warranted, a little narrow, but bright as 
stars — a mouth with the divine lines of humor and 
understanding. It was only a picture, but a realization 
of the living image seemed to be creeping in upon him. 
He made the excuse of seeking a better light, and moved 
across to a distant lamp. He bent over the picture, 
but it was not the picture which he saw. He saw the 
girl herself, and even with the half-formed thought 
he saw her expression change. He saw her eyes lit 
with sorrow and appeal — he saw her arms outstretched 
towards him — he seemed even to hear her soft cry. 
He knew then what his answer would be to his friend's 
prayer. He thought no more of the excuses which he 
had been building in his mind ; of all the practical 
suggestions which he had been prepared to make. 
Common-sense died away within him. The matter-of- 
fact man of thirty was ready to tread in the footsteps 
of this great predecessor, and play the modern knight- 
errant with the whole-heartedness of Don Quixote him- 
self. He fancied himself by her side, and his heart 
leaped with joy of it. He thought no more of aban- 
doned cricket matches and neglected house parties. A 
finger of fire had been laid upon his somewhat torpid 
flesh and blood. 

" Wen ? " Andrew asked. 

Duncombe returned to the table, and laid the picture 
down with a reluctance which he could scarcely conceal. 

" Very nice photograph," he remarked. " Taken 

" I took it myself," Andrew answered. " I used to 


be rather great at that sort of thing before — before my 
eyes went dicky." 

Duncombe resumed his seat. He helped himself to 
another glass of wine. 

" I presume," he said, " from the fact that you call 
yourself their nearest friend, that the young lady is not 
engaged ? " 

" No," Andrew answered slowly. " She is not en- 

Something a little different in his voice caught his 
friend's attention. Duncombe eyed him keenly. He 
was conscious of a sense of apprehension. He leaned 
over the table. 

" Do you mean, Andrew ? " he asked hoarsely. 

" Do you mean ? " 

" Yes, I mean that," his friend answered quietly. 
" Nice sort of old fool, am I not ? I 'm twelve years 
older than she is, I'm only moderately well off and 
less than moderately good-looking. But after all I 'm 
only human, and I 've seen her grow up from a fresh, 
charming child into one of God's wonderful women. 
Even a gardener, you know, George, loves the roses he 
has planted and watched over. I 've taught her a little 
and helped her a little, and I Ve watched her cross the 

" Does she know ? " 

Andrew shook his head doubtfully. 

" I think," he said, " that she was beginning to guess. 
Three months ago I should have spoken — but my 
trouble came. I did n't mean to tell you this, but 
perhaps it is as well that you should know. You can 
understand now what I am suffering. To think of her 
there alone almost maddens me." 


Duncombe rose suddenly from his seat. 

" Come out into the garden, Andrew," he said. " I feel 
stifled here." 

His host rose and took Duncombe's arm. They passed 
out through the French window on to the gravel path 
which circled the cedar-shaded lawn. A shower had 
fallen barely an hour since, and the air was full of 
fresh delicate fragrance. Birds were singing in the 
dripping trees, blackbirds were busy in the grass. The 
perfume from the wet lilac shrubs was a very dream of 
sweetness. Andrew pointed across a park which sloped 
down to the garden boundary. 

" Up there, amongst the elm trees, George," he said, 
" can you see a gleam of white ? That is the Hall, just 
to the left of the rookery." 

Duncombe nodded. 

" Yes," he said, " I can see it." 

"Guy and she walked down so often after dinner," 
he said quietly. " I have stood here and watched them. 
Sometimes she came alone. What a long time ago that 
seems ! " 

Duncombe's grip upon his arm tightened. 

" Andrew," he said, " I can't go ! " 

There was a short silence. Andrew stood quite still. 
All around them was the soft weeping of dripping 
shrubs. An odorous whiff from the walled rose-garden 
floated down the air. 

" I 'm sorry, George ! It 's a lot to ask you, I know." 

" It is n't that ! " 

Andrew turned his head toward his friend. The tone 
puzzled him. 

" I don't understand." 

" No wonder, old fellow ! I don't understand myself." 


There was another short silence. Andrew stood with 
his almost sightless eyes turned upon his friend, and 
Buncombe was looking up through the elm trees to the 
Hall. He was trying to fancy her as she must have 
appeared to this man who dwelt alone, walking down 
the meadow in the evening. 

" No," he repeated softly, " I don't understand myself. 
You 've known me for a long time, Andrew. You 
wouldn't write me down as altogether a sentimental 
ass, would you ? " 

" I should not, George. I should never even use the 
word ' sentimental ' in connection with you." 

Duncombe turned and faced him squarely. He laid 
his hands upon his friend's shoulders. 

" Old man," he said, " here 's the truth. So far as 
a man can be said to have lost his heart without 
rhyme or reason, I've lost mine to the girl of that 

Andrew drew a quick breath. 

" Eubbish, George ! " he exclaimed. " Why, you never 
saw her. You don't know her ! " 

" It is quite true," Duncombe answered. " And yet — 
I have seen her picture." 

His friend laughed queerly. 

"You, George Duncombe, in love with a picture. 
Stony-hearted George, we used to call you. I can't 
believe it ! I can't take you seriously. It 's all rot, 
you know, is n't it ! It must be rot ! " 

"It sounds like it," Duncombe answered quietly. 
" Put it this way, if you like. I have seen a picture 
of the woman whom, if ever I meet, I most surely shall 
love. What there is that speaks to me from that pic- 
ture I do not know. You say that only love can beget 


love. Then there is that in the picture which points 
beyond. You see, I have talked like this in an attempt 
to be honest. You have told me that you care for her. 
Therefore I have told you these strange things. Now do 
you wish me to go to Paris, for if you say yes I shall 
surely go 1 " 

Again Andrew laughed, and this time his mirth 
sounded more natural. 

" Let me see," he said. " We drank Pontet Canet for 
dinner. You refused liqueurs, but I think you drank 
two glasses of port. George, what has come over you ? 
What has stirred your slow-moving blood to fancies like 
these ? Bah ! We are playing with one another. Lis- 
ten ! For the sake of our friendship, George, I beg you 
to grant me this great favor. Go to Paris to-morrow and 
help Phyllis!" 

" You mean it ? " 

"God knows I do. If ever I took you seriously, 
George — if ever I feared to lose the woman I love — 
well, I should be a coward for my own sake to rob 
her of help when she needs it so greatly. Be her 
friend, George, and mine. For the rest the fates must 
provide ! " 

" The fates ! " Buncombe answered. " Ay, it seems to 
me that they have been busy about my head to-night. 
It is settled, then. I will go ! " 



AT precisely half -past nine on the following evening 
Duncombe alighted from his joetite voiture in the 
courtyard of the Grand Hotel, and making his way into 
the office engaged a room. And then he asked the ques- 
tion which a hundred times on the way over he had 
imagined himself asking. A man to whom nervousness 
in any shape was almost unknown, he found himself 
only able to control his voice and manner with the 
greatest difficulty. In a few moments he might see her. 

" You have a young English lady — Miss Poynton — 
staying here, I believe," he said. " Can you tell me if 
she is in now ? " 

The clerk looked at him with sudden interest. 

" Miss Poynton is staying here, sir," he said. " I do 
not believe that she is in just now. Will you wait one 
moment ! " 

He disappeared rapidly, and was absent for several 
minutes. When he returned he came out into the recep- 
tion hall. 

" The manager would be much obliged if you would 
step into his office for a moment, sir," he said confiden- 
tially. " Will you come this way ? " 

Duncombe followed him into a small room behind the 
counter. A gray-haired man rose from his desk and 
saluted him courteously. 


" Sir George Buncombe, I believe," he said. " Will 
you kindly take a seat?" 

Duncombe did as he was asked. All the time he felt 
that the manager was scrutinizing him curiously. 

" Your clerk," he said, " told me that you wished to 
speak to me." 

" Exactly 1 " the manager answered. " You inquired 
when you came in for Miss Poynton. May I ask — 
are you a friend of hers ? " 

"I am here on behalf of her friends," Duncombe 
answered. "I have letters to her." 

The manager bowed gravely. 

"I trust," he said, "that you will soon have an 
opportunity to deliver them. We are not, of course, 
responsible in any way for the conduct or doings of 
our clients here, but I am bound to say that both the 
young people of the name you mention have been the 
cause of much anxiety to us." 

" What do you mean ? " Duncombe asked quickly. 

" Mr. Guy Poynton," the manager continued, " arrived 
here about three weeks ago, and took a room for 
himself and one for his sister, who was to arrive on 
the following day. He went out that same evening, 
and has never since returned. Of that fact you are 
no doubt aware." 

Duncombe nodded impatiently. 

" Yes ! " he said. " That is why I am here." 

" His sister arrived on the following day, and was 
naturally very distressed. We did all that we could 
for her. We put her in the way of communicating with 
the police and the Embassy here, and we gave her every 
assistance that was possible. Four nights ago Mademoi- 
selle went out late. Since then we have seen nothing 
of her. Mademoiselle also has disappeared," 


Buncombe sprang to his feet. He was suddenly pale. 

" Good God ! " he exclaimed. " Four nights ago ! 
She went out alone, you say ? " 

" How else ? She had no friends here. Once or 
twice at my suggestion she had taken one of our guides 
with her, but she discontinued this as she fancied that 
it made her conspicuous. She was all the time going 
round to places making inquiries about her brother." 

Duncombe felt himself suddenly precipitated into a 
new world — a nightmare of horrors. He was no stranger 
in the city, and grim possibilities unfolded themselves 
before his eyes. Four nights ago I 

" You have sent — to the police ? " 

" Naturally. But in Paris — Monsieur must excuse 
me if I speak plainly — a disappearance of this sort is 
never regarded seriously by them. You know the life 
here without doubt. Monsieur! Your accent proves 
that you are well acquainted with the city. No doubt 
their conclusions are based upon direct observation, and 
in most cases are correct — but it is very certain that 
Monsieur the Superintendent regards such disappearances 
as these as due to one cause only." 

Duncombe frowned, and something flashed in his eyes 
which made the manager very glad that he had not put 
forward this suggestion on his own account. 

"With regard to the boy," he said, "this might be 
likely enough. But with regard to the young lady it 
is of course wildly preposterous. I will go to the police 
myself," he added, rising. 

"One moment, Sir George," the manager continued. 
" The disappearance of the young lady was a source 
of much trouble to me, and I made all possible inquiries 
within the hotel I found that on the day of her dis- 


appearance Mademoiselle had been told by one of the 
attendants in the barber's shop, who had waited upon 
her brother on the night of his arrival, that he — 
Monsieur Guy — had asked for the name of some caf^s 
for supper, and that he had recommended Caf^ Mont- 
martre. Mademoiselle appears to have decided to go 
there herself to make inquiries. We have no doubt 
that when she left the hotel on the night of her dis- 
appearance it was to there that she went." 

" You have told the police this ? " 

"Yes, I have told them," the manager answered 
dryly. " Here is their latest report, if you care to see 

Duncombe took the little slip of paper and read it 

" Disappearance of Mademoiselle Poynton, from Eng- 
land. — We regret to state no trace has been discovered 
of the missing young lady. 

" (Signed) Jules Legaede, Superintendent." 

" That was only issued a few hours ago," the manager 

" And I thought," Duncombe said bitterly, " that the 
French police were the best in the world ! " 

The manager said nothing. Duncombe rose from his 

" I shall go myself to the Caf^ Montmartre," he said. 
The manager bowed. 

" I shall be glad," he said, " to divest myself of any 
further responsibility in this matter. It has been a 
source of much anxiety to the directors as well as 

Duncombe walked out of the room, and putting on 


his coat again called for a petite voiticre. He gave 
the man the address in the Kue St. Honor^ and was 
driven to a block of fiats there over some shops. 

" Is Monsieur Spencer in ? " he asked the concierge. 
He was directed to the first floor. An English man- 
servant admitted him, and a few moments later he 
was shaking hands with a man who was seated before a 
table covered with loose sheets of paper. 

" Duncombe, by all that 's wonderful ! " he exclaimed, 
holding out his hand. " Why, I thought that you had 
shaken the dust of the city from your feet forever, 
and turned country squire. Sit down ! What will 
you have ? " 

" Eirst of all, am I disturbing you ? " 

Spencer shook his head. 

" I 've no Press work to-night," he answered. " I Ve 
a clear hour to give you at any rate. When did you 
come ? " 

" Two-twenty from Charing Cross," Duncombe an- 
swered. " I can't tell you how thankful I am to find 
you in, Spencer. I 'm over on a very serious matter, 
and I want your advice." 

Spencer touched the bell. Cigars and cigarettes, 
whisky and soda, appeared as though by magic. 

" Now help yourself and go ahead, old chap," his 
host declared. " I 'm a good listener." 

He proved himself so, sitting with half-closed eyes 
and an air of close attention until he had heard the 
whole story. He did not once interrupt, but when Dun- 
combe had finished he asked a question. 

" What did you say was the name of this cafd where 
the boy had disappeared ? " 

" Caf^ Montmartre." 


Spencer sat up in his chair. His expression had 

" The devil ! " he murmured softly. 

" You know the place ? " 

"Very well. It has an extraordinary reputation. I 
am sorry to say it, Buncombe, but it is a very bad place 
for your friend to have disappeared from." 

" Why ? " 

" In the first place it is the resort of a good many of 
the most dangerous people in Europe — people who play 
the game through to the end. It is a perfect hot-bed 
of political intrigue, and it is under police protection." 

" Police protection ! A place like that ! " Buncombe 

" Not as you and I understand it, perhaps," Spencer 
explained. " There is no Scotland Yard extending a 
protecting arm over the place, and that sort of thing. 
But the place is haunted by spies, and there are intrigues 
carried on there in which the secret service police often 
take a hand. In return it is generally very hard to get 
to the bottom of any disappearance or even robbery 
there through the usual channels. To the casual visitor, 
and of course it attracts thousands from its reputation, 
it presents no more dangers perhaps than the ordinary 
night caf^ of its sort. But I could think of a dozen 
men in Paris to-day, who, if they entered it, I honestly 
believe would never be seen again." 

Spencer was exaggerating, Buncombe murmured to 
himself. He was a newspaper correspondent, and he 
saw these things with the halo of melodrama around 
them. And yet — four nights ago. His face was white 
and haggard. 

" The boy," he said, " could have been no more than 


an ordinary visitor. He had no great sum of money 
with him, he had no secrets, he did not even speak the 
language. Surely he would have been too small fry for 
the intriguers of such a place ! " 

" One would think so," Spencer answered musingly. 
" You are sure that he was only what you say ? " 

"He was barely twenty-one," Buncombe answered, 
"and he had never been out of England before." 

" What about the girl ? " 

" She is two years older. It was her first visit to 
Paris." Spencer nodded. 

" The disappearance of the boy is of course the riddle," 
he remarked. " If you solve that you arrive also at his 
sister's whereabouts. Upon my word, it is a poser. If 
it had been the boy alone — well, one could understand. 
The most beautiful ladies in Paris are at the Mont- 
martre. No one is admitted who is not what they con- 
sider — chic ! The great dancers and actresses are given 
handsome presents to show themselves there. On a 
representative evening it is probably the most brilliant 
little roomful in Europe. The boy of course might have 
lost his head easily enough, and then been ashamed to 
face his sister. But when you tell me of her disap- 
pearance, too, you confound me utterly. Is she good- 
looking ? " 

" Very I " 

" She would go there, of course, asking for her 
brother," Spencer continued thoughtfully. " An utterly 
absurd thing to do, but no doubt she did, and — look 
here, Buncombe, I tell you what 1 11 do. I have my 
own two news -grabbers at hand, and nothing particular 
for them to do this evening. I '11 send them up to the 
Caf^ Montmartre." 


"It's awfully good of you, Spencer. I was going 
myself," Duncombe said, a little doubtfully. 

"You idiot!" his friend said cheerfully, yet with 
a certain emphasis. " English from your hair to your 
boots, you'd go in there and attempt to pump people 
who have been playing the game all their lives, and 
who would give you exactly what information suited 
their books. They'd know what you were there for, 
the moment you opened your mouth. Honestly, what 
manner of good do you think that you could do ? 
You 'd learn what they chose to tell you. If there 's 
really anything serious behind all this, do you suppose 
it would be the truth ? " 

" You 're quite right, I suppose," Duncombe admitted, 
" but it seems beastly to be doing nothing." 

" Better be doing nothing than doing harm I " Spencer 
declared. " Look round the other caf^s and the boule- 
vards. And come here at eleven to-morrow morning. 
We'll breakfast together at Paillard's." 



SPENCEE wrote out his luncheon with the extreme 
care of the man to whom eating has passed to its 
proper place amongst the arts, and left to Buncombe the 
momentous question of red wine or white. Finally, he 
leaned back in his chair, and looked thoughtfully across 
at his companion. 

" Sir George," he said, "you have placed me in a very 
painful position." 

Buncombe glanced up from his hors d'oeuvre. 

" What do you mean ? " 

" I will explain," Spencer continued. " You came to 
me last night with a story in which I hope that I 
showed a reasonable amount of interest, but in which, 
as a matter of fact, I was not interested at all. Girls 
and boys who come to Paris for the first time in their 
lives unattended, and find their way to the Cafe INIont- 
martre, and such places, generally end up in the same 
place. It would have sounded brutal if I had added 
to your distress last night by talking like this, so I de- 
termined to put you in the way of finding out for your- 
self. I sent two of my most successful news-scouts to 
that place last night, and I had not the slightest doubt 
as to the nature of the information which they would 
bring back. It turns out that I was mistaken." 

" What did they discover ? " Buncombe asked eagerly. 

" Nothing ! " 


Buncombe's face fell, but he looked a little puzzled. 

"Nothing? I don't understand. They must have 
heard that they had been there anyhow," 

"They discovered nothing. You do not understand 
the significance of this. I do ! It means that I was 
mistaken for one thing. Their disappearance has more 
in it than the usual significance. Evil may have come 
to them, but not the ordinary sort of evil. Listen ! 
You say that the police have disappointed you in having 
discovered nothing. That is no longer extraordinary 
to me. The police, or those who stand behind them, 
are interested in this case, and in the withholding of 
information concerning it." 

" You are talking riddles to me, Spencer," Duncombe 
declared. "Do you mean that the police in Paris may 
become the hired tools of malefactors ? " 

"Not altogether that," Spencer said, waving aside a 
dish presented before him by the head waiter himself 
with a gesture of approval. "Not necessarily male- 
factors. But there are other powers to be taken into 
consideration, and most unaccountably your two friends 
are in deeper water than your story led me to expect. 
Now, not another question, please, until you have tried 
that sauce. Absolute silence, if you please, for at least 
three or four minutes." 

Duncombe obeyed with an ill grace. He had little 
curiosity as to its flavor, and a very small appetite at all 
with the conversation in its present position. He waited 
for the stipulated time, however, and then leaned once 
more across the table. 

" Spencer ! " 

"First I must have your judgment upon the sauce. 
Did you find enough mussels ? " 



" Damn the sauce ! " Duncombe answered. " Forgive 
me, Spencer, but this affair is, after all, a serious one to 
me. You say that your two scouts, as you call them, dis- 
covered nothing. Well, they had only one evening at it. 
Will they try again in other directions ? Can I engage 
them to work for me ? Money is absolutely no object." 

Spencer shook his head. 

" Duncombe," he said, " you 're going to think me a 
poor sort of friend, but the truth is best. You must 
not count upon me any more. I cannot lift even my 
little finger to help you, I can only give you advice if 
you want it." 

« And that ? " 

"Go back to England to-morrow. Chuck it alto- 
gether. You are up against too big a combination. 
You can do no one any good. You are a great deal 
more likely to come to harm yourself." 

Duncombe was quite quiet for several moments. 
When he spoke again his manner had a new stiffness. 

" You have surprised me a good deal, I must confess, 
Spencer. We will abandon the subject." 

Spencer shrugged his shoulders. 

"I know how you're feeling, old chap," he said. 
"I can't help it. You understand my position here. 
I write a daily letter for the best paying and most 
generous newspaper in the world, and it is absolutely 
necessary that I keep hand in glove with the people in 
high places here. My position absolutely demands it, 
and my duty to my chief necessitates my putting all 
personal feeling on one side in a case like this when a 
conflict arises." 

"But where," Duncombe asked, "does the conflict 
arise ? " 


" Here I " Spencer answered. " I received a note this 
morning from a great personage in this country to whom 
I am under more obligation than any other breathing 
man, requesting me to refrain from making any fur- 
ther inquiries or assisting any one else to make them 
in this matter. I can assure you that I was thunder- 
struck, but the note is in my pocket at the present 

" Does it mention them by name ? " 

" The exact words are," Spencer answered, " ' respect- 
ing the reported disappearance of the young English- 
man, Mr. Guy Poynton, and his sister.' This will 
just show you how much you have to hope for from 
the police, for the person whose signature is at the foot 
of that note could command the implicit obedience of 
the whole system." 

Dimcombe's cheeks were a little flushed. He was 
British to the backbone, and his obstinacy was being 

" The more reason," he said quietly, " so far as I can 
see, that I should continue my independent efforts with 
such help as I can secure. This girl and boy are fellow 
country-people, and I have n't any intention of leaving 
them in the clutches of any brutal gang of Frenchmen 
into whose hands they may have got. I shall go on 
doing what I can, Spencer." 

The journalist shrugged his shoulders. 

"I can't help sympathizing with you, Duncombe," 
he said, " but keep reasonable. You know your Paris 
well enough to understand that you have n't a thousand 
to one chance. Besides, Frenchmen are not brutal. If 
the boy got into a scrape, it was probably his own 


" And the girl ? What of her ? Am I to leave her 
to the tender mercies of whatever particular crew of 
blackguards may have got her into their power ? " 

" You are needlessly melodramatic," Spencer an- 
swered. " I will admit, of course, that her position may 
be an unfortunate one, but the personage whom I have 
the honor to call my friend does not often protect black- 
guards. Be reasonable. Buncombe ! These young people 
are not relatives of yours, are they ? " 


"Nor very old friends? The young lady, for in- 
stance ? " 

Buncombe looked up, and his face was set in grim 
and dogged lines. He felt like a man who was nailing 
his colors to the mast. 

" The young lady," he said, " is, I pray Heaven, my 
future wife ! " 

Spencer was honestly amazed, and a little shocked. 

" Forgive me. Buncombe," he said. " I had no idea — 
though perhaps I ought to have guessed." 

They went on with their luncheon in silence for 
some time, except for a few general remarks. But 
after the coffee had been brought and the cigarettes 
were alight, Spencer leaned once more across the 

" Tell me, Bimcombe, what you mean to do." 

" I shall go to the Cafd Montmartre myself to-night. 
At such a place there must be hangers-on and parasites 
who see something of the game. I shall tr}^ to come 
into touch with them. I am rich enough to outbid the 
others who exact their silence." 

" You must be rich enough to buy their lives then," 
Spencer answered gravely, "for if you do succeed in 


tempting any one to betray the inner happenings of 
that place on which the seal of silence has been put, you 
will hear of them in the Morgue before a fortnight has 

" They must take their risk," Duncombe said coldly. 
" I am going to stuff my pockets with money to-night, 
and I shall bid high. I shall leave word at the hotel 
where I am going. If anything happens to me there — 
weU, I don't think the Caf^ Montmartre will flourish 

"Duncombe," his friend said gravely, "nothing will 
happen to you at' the Caf^ Montmartre. Nothing ever 
does happen to any one there. You remember poor 
De Laurson ? " 

" Quite welL He was stabbed by a girl in the Eue 

"He was stabbed in the Cafe Montmartre, but his 
body was foimd in the Eue Pigalle. Then there was 
the Yicomte de Sauvinac." 

" He was found dead in his study — poisoned." 

" He was found there — yes, but the poison was given 
to him in the Caf^ Montmartre, and it was there that he 
died. I am behind the scenes in some of these matters, 
but I know enough to hold my tongue, or my London 
letter would n't be worth a pound a week. I am giving 
myself away to you now, Duncombe. I am risking a 
position which it has taken me twenty years to secure. 
I 've got to tell you these things, and you must do as I 
tell you. Go back to London ! " 

Duncombe laughed as he rose to his feet. 

"Not though the Yicomte's fate is to be mine to- 
night," he answered. " The worse hell this place is the 
worse the crew it must shelter. I should never hold 


my head up again if I sneaked off home and left the 
girl in their hands. I don't see how you can even 
suggest it." 

" Only because you can't do the least good," Spencer 
answered. "And besides, don't run away with a false 
impression. The place is dangerous only for certain 
people. The authorities don't protect murderers or 
thieves except under special circumstances. The Yi- 
comte's murderer and De Laurson's were brought to 
justice. Only they keep the name of the place out of it 
always. Tourists in shoals visit it, and visit safely 
every evening. They pay fancy prices for what they 
have, but I think they get their money's worth. But 
for certain classes of people it is the decoy house of 
Europe. Foreign spies have babbled away their secrets 
there, and the greatest criminals of the world have 
whispered away their lives to some fair daughter of 
Judas at those tables. I, who am behind the scenes, 
tell you these things, Buncombe." 

Duncombe smiled. 

" To-morrow," he said, " you may add another victim 
to your chamber of horrors ! " 



THE amber wine fell in a little wavering stream 
from his upraised glass on to the table-cloth below. 
He leaned back in his chair and gazed at his three 
guests with a fatuous smile. The girl in blue, with the 
dazzlingly fair hair and wonderful complexion, steadied 
his hand and exchanged a meaning look with the man 
who sat opposite. Surely the poor fool was ready for 
the plucking ? But Madame, who sat beside her, frowned 
upon them both. She had seen things which had puz- 
zled her. She signed to them to wait. 

She leaned over and flashed her great black eyes upon 

"Monsieur enjoys himself like this every night in 
Paris ? " 

A soft, a very seductive, voice. The woman who 
envied her success compared it to the purring of a cat. 
Men as a rule found no fault with it, especially those 
who heard it for the first time. 

Buncombe set down his glass, now almost empty. 
He looked from the stain on the table-cloth into the 
eyes of Madame, and again she thought them very un- 
like the eyes of a drunken man. 

" Why not ? It 's the one city in the world to enjoy 
one's self in. Half-past four, and here we are as jolly 
as anything. Chucked out of everywhere in Lon- 
don at half -past twelve. * Time, gentlemen, please I * 


And out go the lights. Jove, I wonder what they'd 
think of this at the Continental! Lef's — let's have 
another bottle." 

The fair-haired girl — Flossie to her friends, Made- 
moiselle ^lermillon until you had ^been introduced — 
whispered in his ear. He shook his head vaguely. 
She had her arm round his neck. He removed it 

" AVe '11 have another here first anyhow," he declared. 
" Hi, Gargon ! Ring the bell, there 's a good chap, 
Monsieur — dash it, I've forgotten your name. No, 
don't move. I'll do it myself." 

He rose and staggered towards the door. 

" The bell is n't that way, Monsieur," Madame ex- 
claimed. " It is to the right. Louis, quick ! " 

Monsieur Louis sprang to his feet. There was a 
queer grating little sound, followed by a sharp click. 
Buncombe had swung round and faced them. He had 
turned the key in the door, and was calml}^ pocketiug it. 
The hand which held that small shining revolver was 
certainly not the hand of a drunken man. 

They all three looked at him in wonder — ]\Iadame, 
Monsieur Louis, and Mademoiselle Flossie. The dark 
eyebrows of Madame almost met, and her eyes were 
full of the promise of evil thiugs. Monsieur Louis, 
cowering back from that steadily pointed revolver, was 
white with the inherited cowardice of the degenerate. 
Flossie, who had drunk more wiue than any of them, 
was trying to look as though it were a joke. Buncombe, 
with his disordered eveniug clothes, his stained shirt- 
front and errant tie, was master of the situation. He 
came and stood a few feet away from them. His blim- 
deriug French accent and slow choice of words had 

He came and stood a few feel awAy i: 



departed. He spoke to them without hesitation, aud 
his French was almost as good as their own. 

" I want you to keep your places," he said, " and 
listen to me for a few minutes. I can assure you I am 
neither mad nor drunk. I have a few questions to ask 
you, and if your answers are satisfactory you may yet 
find my acquaintance as profitable as though I had 
been the pigeon I seemed. Keep your seat, Monsieur 
le Baron!" 

Monsieur Louis, who had half risen, sat down again 
hastily. They all watched him from their places 
around the table. It was Madame whom he ad- 
dressed more directly — Madame with the jet black 
hair and golden earrings, the pale cheeks and scarlet 

" I invited you into a private room here," he said, 
" because what I have said to you three is between our- 
selves alone. You came, I presume, because it promised 
to be profitable. All that I want from you is informa- 
tion. And for that I am willing to pay." 

Monsieur Louis interposed. He stroked his little 
black moustache with a much beringed hand. With 
the other he gesticulated. 

" Monsieur talks reasonably," he declared, " but why 
all this mystery ? Vfhj this feigned drunkenness ? 
Why the show of arms ? If we can help Monsieur — 
it is an affair of pleasure, and if he chooses to make a 
present to these ladies in return — why, no doubt they 
will be charmed. Me, I presume, he has no intention 
to insult. Permit me. Monsieur." 

He drew a card from a small gold case, and presented 
it to Buncombe, who accepted it with a little bow. 

" If I can aid you in any way," Monsieur Louis 


continued, " I am entirely at your service, but I require 
first of all that in addressing us you recognize my posi- 
tion as a French nobleman, who amuses himself in this 
place as you. Monsieur, also do, and also that you unlock 
that door." 

Buncombe smiled quietly. 

" Monsieur le Baron," he said, " I think that we are 
very well as we are — secure from interruption. I have 
sent others here on this same mission, and they did not 
succeed. Both of these ladies, I believe, have been ap- 
proached for the information I desire, and they have 
thought well to withhold it. I have set my heart upon 
success this time, and I wish to secure at least the oppor- 
tunity of being heard." 

Monsieur Louis shrugged his shoulders. 

" There are secrets," he murmured ; " affairs of 
honor " 

Duncombe interrupted him. 

" Monsieur Louis," he said, " I am not so young as I 
look, and I have lived in Paris. I know that this caf^, 
for all its outward smartness, bears perhaps the worst 
reputation in Europe. I have heard of you three many 
times — the * Trinity from Hell,' they call you some- 
times, I think. You see I know where I am and the 
risk I run. Even this little room has its secrets — a 
murder or two, I believe, and other things — secrets 
which I don't suppose there is gold enough in France 
to buy. Well, I don't want to buy them. You can go 
your way so far as I am concerned. There is only one 
thing I want to know from you, and for that I offer you 
— the ladies, of course, I mean — five thousand francs 

" Five thousand francs I " Madame murmured. 



Mademoiselle Flossie said nothing, but her eyes 

" The question, Monsieur ? " 

" What has become of Mademoiselle Ph341is Poynton, 
the young English lady ? " 

The eyes of Madame seemed to narrow for a moment. 
Monsieur Louis lit a cigarette with fingers which shook 
a little, and the fair face of Mademoiselle Flossie was 
suddenly white. Then they all three looked at one 

" Do you know whom Monsieur may mean ? " 

"Not I!" 

" An English girl ! There are none come here." 

" Mademoiselle Poynton ! It is a name unheard of." 

The young Englishman smiled upon them grimly. 

" Madame," he said, " you have in your satchel — 
don't move, if you please — a roll of French notes — 
indeed you must not move — very cleverly abstracted 
from my pocket by my charming young companion. 
Mademoiselle Flossie here. Now I have at least half a 
dozen friends in the caf^ below whom I could summon 
here by touching that bell, and the identification of 
those notes would be a perfectly simple matter. Shall 
I do it? Or will you earn another roll by giving me 
the information I seek ? " 

Madame leaned forward and whispered in the man's 
ear. Monsieur Louis nodded. 

" Tell him," Mademoiselle Flossie murmured trem- 
ulously. " Monsieur will not break faith with us. He 
will not let it be known from whence he gained the 

"'Agreed ! " the young Englishman declared. " Go 


Madame held up her hand. 

" I," she said, " will tell Monsieur what we know." 

She rose to her feet and leaned over the table. The 
blue-black sequins on her dress glittered and shone in 
the dull light. Her figure was superb, her neck and 
bosom a flawless white. The Englishman, however, 
was unmoved. His keen gray eyes were fixed upon 
her, but the revolver remained in his right hand. From 
downstairs they could hear the music of violins, the 
rattle of glasses, the hum of voices and laughter. 
Madame frowned slightly as she marked the young 
Englishman's alertness. She was used to victims, and 
his imperturbability annoyed her. 

" I trust," she said, " that you will remember, Mon- 
sieur, that I am breaking a pledged word. If Monsieur 
the Director here knew that I was telling you of Made- 
moiselle Poynton there would be much trouble for all 
of us." 

Buncombe nodded. 

" Go on," he said. 

" Mademoiselle came here first about a month or per- 
haps six weeks ago," she said. " From that time on she 
was a regular visitor. She came alone. She spoke to 
no one. She was always a mystery. She was very 
handsomely dressed — for an English girl, quite chic ! 
She spent money, and Monsieur Albert the director kept 
always a table for her. As time went on we began to 
feel the mystery. We asked ourselves for what purpose 
does she come here ? For what, indeed ! 

"One night Monsieur Albert, who was always be- 
sieged with questions about her, took too much wine. 
I have seen that happen with him but once — since that 
time never. He told us about Mademoiselle. She 


made some inquiries about her brother, and Monsieur 
Albert was able to tell her his whereabouts. After that 
he scarcely expected to see her again, but the next night 
she was here also. 

" Then Monsieur Albert learned more. Mademoiselle 
was in a small way an artist, and she had conceived the 
idea of painting a picture of the caf^ — an early morning 
picture of effects, Monsieur understands. There was to 
be the morning sunlight streaming across the supper- 
tables, the faces of all of us aged and haggard. 
Monsieur Louis here, without doubt, a very child of the 
devil ! Oh, a very moral picture. Monsieur. It was to 
convert us all. Monsieur Albert declared that he would 
arrange to have it here on exhibition, and we should 
aU mend our ways. Monsieur knew perhaps that the 
young lady was an artist ? " 

The question was flashed suddenly upon him as 
though the intention was to take him by surprise. Dun- 
combe, however, remained immoved. 

"I am here, Madame, to ask, not to answer, ques- 
tions," he said. "Will you kindly proceed? I am 
greatly interested." 

Madame put her hand to her throat for a moment as 
though to loosen her necklace. She had not the appear- 
ance of being greatly in love with her questioner. 

" There came a night," she continued, " when Made- 
moiselle broke through her rule. A man came in and 
sat at her table. His name was the Vicomte D Aubarde, 
and he was known to most of us, though to the young 
lady he appeared to be a stranger. They talked ear- 
nestly for an hour or more. When she left — he accom- 
panied her ! " 

The Englishman had grown paler. Madame saw it 


and smiled. Her lover perhaps ! It was good to make 
him suffer. 

" Flossie here," she continued, " was outside, and 
saw them depart. They drove off together in the 
Vicomte's coup^. They were apparently on the best 
of terms. Since then we have not seen her again — 
nor the Vicomte. Monsieur knows now as much as 
we know." 

" And how long ago is that ? " Buncombe asked 

" A week to-night," Madame replied. 

Buncombe laid down a roll of notes upon the 

"I wish," he said, "to prove to you that I am in 
earnest. I am therefore going to pay you the amount 
I promised, although I am perfectly well aware that the 
story of Madame is — false ! " 

" Monsieur ! " 

" As I remarked," he repeated, " false. Now listen 
to me. I want to tempt one of you, I don't care 
which, to break through this thieves' compact of yours. 
I have paid a thousand francs for lies — I will pay 
ten thousand francs for truth ! Ten thousand francs 
for the present whereabouts of Mademoiselle Phyllis 
Poynton ! " 

Mademoiselle Flossie looked up at him quickly. Then 
she glanced furtively at Madame, and the flash of 
Madame's eyes was like lightning upon blue steeL 
Buncombe moved towards the door. 

" I will pay the bill downstairs," he said. " Good 
night ! Think over what I have said. Ten thousand 
francs ! " 

Monsieur Louis stood up and bowed stiffly. Made- 




moiselle Flossie ventured to throw him a kiss. Madame 
smiled inscrutably. 

The door closed. They heard him go downstairs. 
Madame picked up his card and read aloud. 

Sir George Buncombe, 

Risley Hall, 

Grand Hotel, Paris. 

"If one could only," Madame murmured, "tell him 

the truth, collect the money — and " 

" And," Flossie murmured, half fearfully. 
Monsieur le Baron smiled 1 



welcomed at the Grand HoteL The porter be- 
lieved that Sir George Duncombe was out. He would in- 
quire, if Mademoiselle would wait, but he did not usher 
her into the drawing-room, as would have been his duty 
in an ordinary case, or even ask her to take a seat. 

Mademoiselle Mermillon was of the order of young 
person who resents, but this afternoon she was far too 
nervous. During the porter's temporary absence she 
started at every footstep, and scrutinized anxiously 
every passer-by. Often she looked behind her through 
the glass doors into the street. When at last he reap- 
peared alone her disappointment was obvious. 

"Sir George Duncombe is out. Mademoiselle," he 
announced. " Will you be pleased to leave a message, 
or your name ? " 

" You do not know how long he will be ? " she in- 

" Sir George left no word," the man answered. " He 
has been out since before dejeuner'' 

Mademoiselle decided to leave a note. The porter 
supplied her with notepaper and envelopes. She sat 
down at a small round table, and once more glanced 
furtively around. Convinced that she was not being 
watched, she hastily wrote a few lines, sealed and ad- 
dressed the envelope, and handed it to the porter. 


"You will give this to Sir George immediately he 
returns," she begged. " It is important." 

"Monsieur shall have it without doubt, Mademoi- 
selle," the man answered. 

She pulled down her veil and left the place hurriedly. 
When she reached the boulevard she slackened her pace, 
and drew a little breath of relief. 

" Ten thousand francs ! " she murmured to herself. 
" If I took that with me they would receive me at home. 
I might start all over again. It is worth a little risk. 
Heavens, how nervous I am I " 

She entered a caf^ and drank a petit verre. As she 
set her glass down a man looked at her over the top of 
his newspaper. She tried to smile, but her heart was 
beating, and she was sick with fear. 

" What a fool I am ! " she muttered. " It is a stranger, 
too. If he were one of Gustav's lot I should know 

She returned his smile, and he came and sat down 
beside her. They had another liqueur. Later they left 
the place together. 

Buncombe returned to his hotel tired out after a dis- 
appointing day spent in making fruitless inquiries in 
various parts of Paris. He had learnt nothing. He 
seemed as far off the truth as ever. He opened the note 
which the porter handed him listlessly enough. After- 
wards, however, it was different. This is what he 
read : — 

" I can tell you about the young English lady if you 
will promise upon your honor that you will not betray 
me. I dare not come here again. I dare not even speak 



to you while the others are about. Go to the Cafd 
Sylvain to-night and order dinner in a private room. I 
will come at half-past seven. — Flossie." 

Duncombe drew a little sigh of relief. At last then 
he was to know something. He was very English, a 
bad amateur detective, and very weary of his task. 
Nothing but his intense interest in the girl herself — an 
interest which seemed to have upset the whole tenor of 
his life — would have kept him here plodding so relent- 
lessly away at a task which seemed daily to present 
more difficulties and complications. Yet so absorbed 
had he become that the ordinary duties and pleasures 
which, made up the routine of his life scarcely ever 
entered into his mind. There had been men coming 
down to shoot, whom in an ordinary way he would not 
have dreamed of putting off — a cricket match which 
had been postponed until his return, and which he had 
completely forgotten. Paris had nothing in the shape 
of amusement to offer him in place of these things, yet in 
his own mind these things were as if they had not been. 
Every interest and energy of his life was concentrated 
upon the one simple object of his search. 

He gave the man half a crown, and walked to the lift 
whistling. The porter shook his head, and Duncombe 
receded considerably in his estimation, notwithstanding 
the tip. He considered Mademoiselle Flossie a little ob- 
vious for a gentleman of Buncombe's class. Duncombe 
treated himself to a cocktail and a cigarette as he 
changed his clothes. It was positively the first gleam 
of hope he had had. And then suddenly he remembered 
Spencer's warning, and he became grave. 

He was at the Caf6 Sylvain early. He ordered dinner, 


gave elaborate instructions about a young lady when 
she arrived, and with a glass of absinthe and another 
cigarette sat down to wait. At a quarter to eight he 
began to get restless. He summoned the waiter again, 
and gave a more detailed description of Mademoiselle 
Flossie. The waiter was regretful but positive. No 
young lady of any description had arrived expecting to 
meet a gentleman in a private room. Duncombe tried 
him with her name. But yes, Mademoiselle Mermillon 
was exceedingly well known there! He would give 
orders that she should be shown up immediately she 
arrived. It would be soon, without doubt. 

At a quarter-past eight Duncombe dined alone, too 
disappointed to resent the waiter's sympathetic attitude. 
At nine o'clock he returned to the hotel on the chance 
that a message might have been sent there. He read 
the English newspapers, and wrote letters until mid- 
night. Then he ordered a carriage and drove to the 
Caf^ Montmartre. 

He mounted the stairs and passed through the little 
bar which led into the supper-room. Monsieur Albert 
came forward with a low bow. 

" You can find me a table, I suppose ? " Duncombe 
remarked, looking round. " Where shall I sit ? " 

Monsieur Albert shook his head slowly. His hands 
were outstretched, his manner sad, but resigned. 

" I am very sorry. Monsieur, but to-night every place 
is taken. I have had to turn others away already," he 
declared. " A thousand regrets." 

Duncombe looked at him astonished. The place was 
more than half empty. 

" Surely you can find me a small table somewhere,'* 
he said. " I was here last evening, you know. If it is 


because I am alone I will order supper for two and a 
magnum of wine." 

Monsieur Albert was immovable. He remembered 
Buncombe well, and he was proud of his patronage, but 
to-night it was impossible to offer him a table. Dun- 
combe began to be annoyed. 

" Very well," he said, " I will stay in the bar. You 
can't turn me out of there, can you ? " 

Monsieur Albert was evasive. He desired Monsieur 
Buncombe to be amused, and the people who remained 
in the bar — well, it was not possible to get rid of them, 
but they were not fitting company for him. 

" There is the Caf^ Mazarin," he added confiden- 
tially, " a few steps only from here — a most amusing 
place. The most wonderful ladies there, too, very chic, 
and crowded every night ! Monsieur should really try 
it. The commissionaire would direct him — a few yards 

" Much obliged to you," Buncombe answered, turning 
on his heeL " I may look in there presently." 

He seated himself at a small round table and ordered 
a drink. The people here were of a slightly different 
class from those who had the entree to the supper-room 
and were mostly crowded round the bar itself. At a 
small desk within a few feet of him a middle-aged 
woman with a cold, hard face sat with a book of account 
before her and a pile of bills. There was something 
almost Sphynx-like about her appearance. She never 
spoke. Her expression never changed. Once their eyes 
met. She looked at him steadfastly, but said noth- 
ing. The girl behind the bar also took note of him. 
She was very tall and slim, absolutely colorless, and 
with coils of fair hair drawn tightly back from her fore- 

A :MAKER of history 69 

head. She was never without a cigarette, lighting a fresh 
one always from its predecessor, talking all the while 
unceasingly, but without the slightest change of expres- 
sion. Once she waved the men and girls who stood 
talking to her on one side, and Buncombe fancied that 
it was because she desii-ed a better view of him. 

Suddenly he was startled by a voice close at hand. 
He looked up. The woman at the desk was speaking to 

"Monsieur would be well advised," she said, "if he 

Buncombe looked at her in amazement. She was 
writing rapidly in her book, and her eyes were fixed 
upon her work. If he had not actually heard her, it 
would have been hard to believe that she had spoken. 

"But why, Madame?" he asked. "Why should I 
go? I am in no one's way. I can pay for what I 

She dipped her pen in the ink. 

"I know nothing of Monsieur or his business," she 
said, still without even glancing towards him, "but I 
know that Monsiem' Albert does not wish him to 

" The de^-il take Monsieur Albert ! " Buncombe an- 
swered angrily. "I am waiting to speak to some one 
who comes here regularly, and I shall stay vmtil she 

The woman wrote steadily for a moment. Then she 
blotted the page on which she had been writing, and 
raising her head, looked at him. 

" It is no affair of mine," she said, " but Monsieur 
Albert has sent for the police. They may say that you 
have had too much wine, or that you owe money. In 


either case you will be removed The police will not 
listen to you. Monsieur Albert has special discretion. 
It is no affair of mine," she repeated, " but if I were 
Monsieur I would go." 

Buncombe rose slowly to his feet, and summoning a 
waiter paid his bill. The man produced a second one, 
dated a few days back, for a large amount. 

" What is the meaning of this ? " he asked. " I do 
not owe you anything." 

" Monsieur was here with a party last Thursday 
night," he said glibly. " He promised to pay the next 
time. I will call the manager." 

Duncombe tore the bill in half and turned away. He 
bowed to the lady at the desk. 

" I see that you were right," he said. " I will leave." 

" Monsieur is wise," she answered without looking up. 

He left the caf^ without speaking to any one further. 
When he reached the pavement he slipped a five-franc 
piece into the hand of the tall commissionaire. 

" You know most of the young ladies who come here, 
I suppose ? " he asked. 

" But certainly ! " the man answered with a smile, 
" Monsieur desires ? " 

" I want the address of a young lady named Mer- 
millon — Flossie, I think they call her," Duncombe said. 

" Thirty-one, Rue Pigalle," the man answered promptly. 
" But she should be here within an hour. She never 

Duncombe thanked him, and hailed a carriage. 

" Shall I give Mademoiselle any message ? " the man 
asked confidentially. 

"I am going to call for her," Duncombe answered. 
"If I do not find her I will return," 


To drive to the Rue Pigalle was an affair of five min- 
utes only. Buncombe climbed a couple of flights of 
narrow stairs, pushed open a swing gate, and found 
himself in front of an office, in which an elderly woman 
sat reading. 

" Can you tell me where to find Mademoiselle Mer- 
millon ? " Buncombe asked. 

"Next floor; first door on the left," the woman 
answered. " Mademoiselle is not often in at this hour, 

Buncombe thanked her, and climbed another flight 
of stairs. He had to strike a match to look for a bell 
or knocker, and then found neither. He knocked on 
the door with his knuckles. There was no reply. He 
was on the point of departure, when he noticed that the 
door was ajar. After a moment's hesitation he pushed 
it open. 

He foimd himself in a narrow passage, with dresses 
and other articles of apparel hanging from a row of pegs 
on the wall. The place was in complete darkness. He 
struck another match. At the end of the passage was 
an inner door, also ajar. He rapped upon it, and finally 
pushed it open. Just then his match went out ! 



DUNCOMBE had the nerves and temperament 
of the young Englishman of his class, whose life is 
mostly spent out of doors, and who has been an athlete 
all his days. But nevertheless at that moment he was 
afraid. Something in the stillness of the room oppressed 
him. He could see nothing, hear nothing except the 
clock ticking upon the mantlepiece. And yet he was 

He fumbled desperately in his pocket for his match- 
box. When he had found it he discovered that it was 
empty. With a sense of positive relief he backed out 
of the room and hastily descended the stairs. The old 
lady was still in her sitting-room reading the paper. 
She set it down at his entrance, and looked at him over 
the top of her spectacles. 

" Pardon, Madame," he said, removing his hat, " I 
find the rooms of Mademoiselle are open, but all is in 
darkness. I cannot make any one hear." 

Madame took up her paper. 

" Then Mademoiselle is probably out," she declared. 
"It is generally so at this hour. Monsieur can leave 
his name." 

" But the doors are all open ! " Buncombe said. 

" I go presently and close them," Madame answered. 
" The careless hussy ! " 

Buncombe produced a small piece of gold. Madame 


laid down the paper at once. She looked at it as 
though ready to snatch it from his hand. 

" Madame would oblige me very much if she would as- 
cend with me at once," Buncombe said. " I should like to 
make quite sure whether the young lady is there or not." 

Madame was on her feet with remarkable celerity. 
She accepted the coin and carefully placed it in a purse 
drawn from somewhere amongst the folds of her volu- 
minous skirts. 

"We shall need a candle," Buncombe reminded her. 

She lit a lamp, talking all the while. 

" Monsieur is very generous," she declared. " Made- 
moiselle Flossie is a charming young lady. No wonder 
she has many friends. There was one," she continued, 
" who came here with her this afternoon — but he left 
almost at once," she added hastily, aware of her indis- 
cretion. " Ah, these stairs ! They grow steeper for 
one so corpulent. At last I " 

She pushed open the door and went sideways down 
the narrow passage. Bhectly they had entered it they 
had a view of the room beyond. Madame cried out, 
and Buncombe felt all his vague fears spring into a 
terrified apprehension of actual evil. 

The curtain before the window had been hastily 
drawn, but the lamp which the portress carried was 
sufficient feebly to illuminate the room. The table- 
cloth and a broken vase lay upon the floor. A few feet 
off was an overturned chair. Upon the canopied bed 
lay a prostrate figure, the head thrown back at an im- 
natural angle, the eyes open but glazed. Buncombe 
dared do no more than cast one single horrified glance 
at it. Madame set down the lamp upon the table, and 
made the room hideous with shrieks. 


" Good God ! " she cried. " It is the little one who 
is dead ! " 

Duncombe himself fetched in the gendarmes, and 
waited whilst they took voluminous notes of the occur- 
rence. The murder seemed to them and to Madame 
to be one of a very common class. The assassin had 
left no clue whatever behind him. The poor girl's rings 
had been torn from her fingers, her little stock of jewel- 
lery ransacked, her purse was empty, everything of 
value had been taken. There was not a shred of evi- 
dence against any one. Madame, who had seen the 
man upon the stairs, could only say that he was short, 
and wore a black felt hat. The officer who took down 
what they had to say shrugged his shoulders as he 
replaced the book in his pocket. The affair would 
pass most certainly, he feared, into the long list of 
undiscoverable crimes. 

Duncombe left his name and address, and enough 
money for the funeral. Then he returned to his hotel. 
This was the end, then, of the clue from which he had 
hoped so much. Spencer's warning as to what would 
surely happen to those whom he might succeed in brib- 
ing came back into his mind with sickening insistence. 
In a measure he was responsible for the girl's death. 
After all, what chance had he? He was fighting 
against powers which, moving always in the darkness, 
seemed able with the most ridiculous ease to frustrate 
his every move. He re-entered the hotel in a state of 
complete nervous depression. For the first time he had 
forebodings on his own account. What had happened 
to Mademoiselle Flossie might happen so easily to 

A man rose quickly from the lounge in the hotel 


as he entered. Duncombe greeted him with a little 
expression of wonder. 

"Spencer!" he exclaimed. "Were you waiting to 
see me ? " 

The journalist nodded. He was not in evening dress, 
and he too had the appearance of a man who has re- 
ceived something of a shock. 

" Yes. The caf^ is closed, I suppose. Let us go 
down into the smoke-room. I want to talk to you." 

Duncombe led the way. They found two easy-chairs, 
and despatched a waiter for whiskies and soda. Then 
Spencer turned to his friend. 

" Have you met," he asked, " with any success ? " 

" None I " Duncombe answered gloomily. 

" I have something to tell you," Spencer continued. 
" No, it is not good news," he added hastily. "It is 
more a personal matter. It is of something which has 
happened to myself." 

Duncombe sighed. 

" Go on I " he said. 

"For twenty-two and a half years," Spencer said, 
" I have lived in Paris as the correspondent to various 
English journals. I have made many friends, and it 
has been considered amongst all my fellow journalists 
that I had the ear of more influential people in politics 
and society here than any other vn?iter. To-day I have 
resigned my position I " 

Duncombe managed to summon up enough interest 
to be surprised. 

"I had no idea," he said, "that you were contem- 
plating anything of the sort." 

" I was not I " Spencer answered grimly. " I am 
as much surprised myself as all my friends will be." 


Duncombe was puzzled. 

" I am afraid I don't quite understand," he said. 
" You can't mean that your people " 

"No! My people have nothing to do with it," 
Spencer answered. " I have had the sack, but not 
from them. It is Paris which will have no more of me. 
I live here, of course, on my faculties for obtaining 
information, and my entree into political and social life. 
To-day the Minister of Police has declined to receive me, 
or at any future time — my cards of entry into the cham- 
ber and half a dozen places have been revoked, my name 
has been expunged from the visiting list of the President, 
and practically of every other person of importance. 
All that I may see of Paris now is from the outside. 
And there is no appeal ! " 

" But what is the reason of it, Spencer ? What 
have you done ? How have you offended all these 
people ? " 

Spencer hesitated. 

"I don't want you to blame yourself in any way, 
Duncombe," he said. " You could not possibly have 
guessed the sort of thing you were up against. But 
the fact remains that my offence is in having sent my 
friends to the Caf4 Montmartre on your account, and in 
being suspected of rendering you further assistance in 
your search for those two marvellous young English 
people ! " 

" You are not joking by any chance, are you ? " 
Duncombe asked gravely. 

"The matter," Spencer replied, "does not appear to 
me to lend itself to anything of the sort." 

Duncombe ^buried his head in his hands for several 


" Great Heavens ! " he murmured. " Let me think ! 
I can't tell you how sorry I am, old chap. Can't the 
thing be explained? As a matter of fact, you were 
discretion itself." 

"I don't want it explained," Spencer said, "even if 
it would do any good — which it would n't ! I should 
have retired in any case in less than a year, and, as it is, 
I believe my successor is on his way over already. Now 
would you like to know why I have come here at this 
hour of the night to tell you this ? " 

Buncombe nodded. 

" Go on ! " he said. " Afterwards I 've something to 
tell you." 

"I've come," Spencer said, "because I'm free now, 
if you like, to help you. I was interested in your story 
before. I am ten times more interested in it now. If 
you still want me I '11 do what I can for you." 

" Want you ! Spencer, do you mean it ? " Buncombe 
exclaimed. "Want you! Why, there's no one I'd 
rather interest in the affair than you." 

" Well, I can promise you my interest is pretty well 
excited already," Spencer answered. "I'm with you 
right along. Now tell me where you 've been this even- 
ing, and what 's happened." 

Buncombe recounted the evening's events. His new 
ally listened and afterwards smoked for a moment or 
two in silence. 

" It is simply wonderful," he declared. " The whole 
secret-service system of Paris is working to cover up the 
traces of this boy and girl. Their spies, of course, are 
everywhere, and their organization perfect. The first 
one of their creatures who tries to break away is Mad- 
emoiselle Flossie. The poor little fool lived for only 


a few hours afterwards. Your bribe was high, but she 
ought to have known better." 

" You mean " 

" Why, of course ! The theft of her poor little jewels 
was only a blind. It was to deceive the public, for, as 
a matter of fact, her murderer would have been per- 
fectly safe if he had strolled into the nearest police 
station and made his report. She was killed because 
she was going to give you certain information." 

Buncombe shuddered. 

" Great Heaven I " he exclaimed. " Tell me, Spencer, 
who or what can be at the back of all this ? Guy 
Poynton was simply a healthy-minded, not over-intelli- 
gent, young Saxon, unambitious, and passionately fond 
of his home and his country life. He had no friends 
over here, no interests, no ties of any sort. He was 
abroad for the first time of his life. He regarded 
foreign countries and people simply with the toler- 
ant curiosity of the untravelled Britisher. He appears 
in Paris for one night and disappears, and forthwith 
all the genius of French espionage seems to have 
combined to cover up his traces. It is the same 
with his sister, only as she came afterwards it 
was evidently on his account that she also is drawn 
into the mystery. What can be the meaning of it, 
Spencer ? " 

"My young friend," Spencer said, "I will be frank 
with you. I have not the least idea! I only know 
that somehow or other you 're up against a big thing. 
In a week — perhaps a day — I may know more. Mean- 
while I want you to go on your way precisely as though 
you and I had not discussed this matter." 

" We may not work together then ? " Buncombe asked. 


" Certainly not ! You are a marked man every- 
where. Every door is closed to you. I shall nominally 
stick to my post. You must be content to be the 
actual looker-on, though you had better not abandon 
your inquiries altogether. I will put you up at the 
Cercle Anglais. It will serve to pass the time, and 
you may gain information at the most unlikely places. 
And now good-bye." 

The liftman thrust a pencilled note into Buncombe's 
hand as he ascended to his room. 

" From I do not know whom, Monsieur," he an- 
nounced. " It was left here by some one ! Whom 
I cannot say." 

Duncombe opened it in his dressing-room. There 
was only one sentence: — 

" Monsieur would be well advised to leave Paris 



" "T X the most unlikely places ! " Duncombe mur- 

X mured to himself as he bowed to the French- 
man, whose name his friend had mentioned. " I am 
very glad to meet you again, Monsieur le Baron ! " 
he said, aloud. 

They were in the covered garden at the Eitz. Dun- 
combe had accepted the pressing invitation of an old 
college friend, whom he had met on the boulevards, 
to drop in and be introduced to his wife. And the 
third at the tea-table was Monsieur Louis, known in 
society apparently as Monsieur le Baron de Seurs. 

Lady Hadley, his friend's wife, smiled languidly 
upon them both. She was a frail pink and white 
little woman, with the reputation of a beauty to sustain, 
wherein lay her life's work. 

" You two know one another, of course 1 " she re- 
marked. "Paris is no larger than London, after all." 

" Sir George and I have met once at least," the 
Baron said, smiling. " I am glad that he does me the 
honor of remembering the occasion." 

Duncombe felt himself no match for his companion 
with the foils. He let the conversation drift, and 
waited for his opportunity. Presently some more guests 
arrived, and Duncombe drew his host on one side. 

" Hadley," he said, " how long have you known the 
Baron ? " 


"Met him at Dorset House about two years ago, I 
think," Hadley answered. "He was doing a round of 
country-houses. I 'm not sure that he did n't stay at 
Sandringham. One of the real old French families, you 
know, De Seurs." 

Buncombe nodded. There did not seem to be much 
that he could say. He mingled with the other guests, 
and observed his social duties. But he watched the 
Baron, and he took care that they left together. 

" Are you going my way, Baron ? " he asked, as they 
stepped into the Place Vendome. 

" I was going to the Cercle Anglais," the Baron an- 
swered. " Do you belong ? " 

" I am up for a month's membership, but I am not 
elected yet," Duncombe answered. 

" Then you shall come in as my guest," the Baron 

"You are exceedingly kind," Duncombe answered. 
" I wonder whether I might presume still further upon 
your good nature and ask you a question." 

" The asking," the Baron murmured, " involves 

" You bear, I am told, an honored name, and you are 
well received in society. Why do you associate with 
murderers and thieves in that hell of a caf^ where I saw 
you first ? " 

The Baron smiled. 

" My friend," he said, " I seek always the life amus- 
ing, and I find it there." 

" I was robbed before your eyes. Baron." 

The Frenchman sighed. 

" I am so sorry," he said, " that I did not see it. That 
indeed would have been amusing." 



" You know that the young lady who sat with us is 
dead ? " 

" A most bizarre happening," the Baron assented with 
a little sigh. " I cannot imagine how it occurred. The 
newspaper reports are not convincing. One would like 
to reconstruct the story. Poor little Flossie ! She 
was most amusing, but just a little, a very little, too 
fond of flourishing her jewellery. One will miss her, 

"Referring for one moment to our meeting at the 
caf d. You told me a story there — you and your friend 
Madame — of a young English lady — which the facts 
seem scarcely to sustain." 

The Baron sighed. 

" My friend," he said, " we did the best we could at 
a moment's notice. I rather fancied the story my- 
self. As to facts — what have they to do with it ? 
You demanded a story, and you got it. I rather flat- 
tered myself that under the circumstances it was not 

" You admit now, then, that it was not the truth 1 " 

"The truth! My dear Sir George! Supposing that 
the whereabouts of your charming young friend had 
been known to me, do you suppose that I should have 
permitted myself to be bullied into disclosing it ? For- 
give me if I speak plainly, but if you really wished 
for information which you supposed that I had, your 
method of seeking it put you at once out of court. 
A French gentleman does not permit himself to be 

Buncombe was silent for several moments. There 
were many things which he could have said, but where 
was the use ? 



" As a French gentleman, then," he said at last, " will 
you permit me to make a personal appeal to you ? Miss 
Phyllis Poynton is a young lady in whom I am deeply 
interested. She was last seen at the Cafd Montmartre, 
from which place she disappeared. I am an English- 
man of your own station. Tell me where I can find her, 
or what has become of her." 

" My dear Sir George," the Baron said, " you might 
have saved yourself a great deal of trouble if you had 
spoken like this to me at the first. Frankly, then, I 
have not the least idea. Young English ladies come and 
go every evening at the Caf^ Montmartre, and such 
places. One remembers only those who happen to have 
amused one, and not always those. Forgive me if I speak 
plainly. A young lady who had visited the Caf^ Mont- 
martre alone — well, you might look for her anywhere, 
but most assuredly in that case if your anxiety was to 
induce her to return to her friends, you would be a little 
too late. Ah ! We have arrived. Now, my friend, I 
must make you free of the place." 

Duncombe was fuming with anger, but he had dis- 
cretion enough to remain silent. 

" Do you play Bridge ? " the Baron asked, as they 
entered the card-room. 

" Occasionally," Duncombe assented. 

" I will go and see if I can find any men," the Baron 
remarked. " I will leave my young friend De Bergillac 
to entertain you. The Vicomte de Bergillac — Sir 
George Duncombe." 

Duncombe shook hands with a pale, weary-looking 
youth, whose whole appearance was distinguished by 
marked symptoms of lassitude and ill-health. They 
sat in easy-chairs almost opposite to one another, 


and Duncombe found the other's scrutiny almost 

" You speak French, perhaps — yes ? " the young man 
asked at length. 

" Yes ! I speak French," Duncombe admitted. 

" Then listen to me," the Vicomte said slowly. " I 
speak as one man of honor to another. Do not play 
cards in this club ! " 

" Not play cards ? Why not ? " Duncombe asked, 

"You can take my advice or leave it," the Vicomte 
answered calmly. " I have no explanation to offer you. 
If you chose to repeat my remark you would place me 
in an exceedingly awkward position. You see, I rely 
upon you as a man of honor." 

" I am only too much obliged to you for the hint," 
Duncombe declared. " But this club — the Cercle 
Anglais " 

" The club is all right," the Vicomte admitted calmly. 
" Unfortunately there is no place in Paris which would 
be entirely safe for you. You have the misfortune, you 
see, to be in opposition to some of my friends, who have 
really unlimited opportunities for making things dis- 
agreeable for you. Now I am beginning to talk, and 
it is very foolish of me. Why don't you leave Paris, 
Sir George?" 

" Why should I ? " Duncombe asked, a little sharply. 
" I break no laws here, I wrong no one. I am here on 
my own business, and I only ask to be let alone." 

The Vicomte regarded him as one might look at a 
spoilt child whom it was yet advisable to humor. 

" Ah," he said, " they will not let you alone. You are 
so obstinate, like all your country-people, or you would 


recognize it without roy risking so much by speaking. 
You will have to leave Paris, and very soon. It is so 
easily to be managed. A dispute at cards here — you 
would certainly be in the wrong, and an ugly scandal 
if you were not away in twenty-four hours. It is one 
method of a thousand." 

" You know so much," Buncombe said. " I have no 
doubt that you know the one thing which I would give 
years of my life to be satisfied about." 

The boy's dark eyes were fixed steadily upon his. 

"Sir George," he said, "there is nothing which I 
can possibly say to you. My warning has been ex- 
ceeding foolish, but after all if I can persuade you to 
leave Paris I shall have done no great harm. As for 
the cards — well, I must plead guilty to weakness 
there. I have not the slightest objection to taking 
the life of a man who is making a nuisance of himself, 
but his honor I think one should not tamper with. 
May I offer you a cigarette? Well, Louis, what 

The Baron had strolled back into the room, and was 
sitting on the arm of a chair. 

" It will be all right directly," the Baron answered.' 
" We have three, and old D Arcon has telephoned that 
he will be here in five minutes." 

Buncombe rose to his feet. 

" It was really very careless of me," he said, " but I 
completely forgot that I had an engagement at the 
hotel at six o'clock. I am afraid that I shall not be 
able to stop." 

The Baron glanced quickly at his young friend. 
There was nothing whatever to be learnt, though, from 
his pale, boyish face. His own countenance had 


darkened for the moment, but he recovered his com- 
posure immediately. 

" As you will," he answered carelessly. " Perhaps you 
can drop in later. Come and dine, will you, at half- 
past eight?" 

" I am much obliged to you, Baron," Duncombe said, 
*' but I cannot accept your invitation. I am a lover of 
plain speaking, so I will not plead a previous engage- 
ment. But the one thing I want from you, the thing 
which I have almost a right to demand, you will not 
give. I do not feel, therefore, that any more than 
ordinary intercourse is possible between us." 

The Baron bowed gravely. 

" My dear Sir George," he said, " I am answered. I 
wish I could drive out of your mind that extraordinary 
hallucination relative to my supposed knowledge of your 
young English friend. It is impossible! Very good! 
I shall look forward to a time, Sir George, when we may 
meet on a better footing." 

Duncombe left the hotel with the recollection of that 
curiously ironic smile fresh in his mind. 





FOE three days Duncombe saw nothing of Spencer. 
Three long days devoid of incident, hopelessly dull, 
aimless, and uninteresting. On the fourth the only 
change in the situation was scarcely a reassuring one. 
He became aware that he was being watched. 

There was no particular secrecy about it. Even in 
the hotel itself some one was always on his heels. The 
absence of any attempt at concealment convinced him 
that it was the authorized police who had thus suddenly 
showed their interest in him. The suspicion was soon 
to be confirmed. The manager called him on the fourth 
morning into his private office. 

"Monsieur will pardon me, I trust," he said, "if I 
take the liberty of asking him a question." 

" Certainly ! " Duncombe answered. " Go ahead ! " 

"Monsieur is aware that he has been placed under 
the surveillance of the police ? " 

" The fact," Duncombe said, " has been borne in upon 
me during the last few hours. What of it ? " 

The manager coughed. 

" This is a cosmopolitan hotel, Sir George," he said, 
"and we make no pretence at ultra-exclusiveness, but 
we do not care to see the police on the premises." 

" Neither do I," Duncombe answered. " Can you 
suggest how we may get rid of them ? " 

" Monsieur does not quite understand," the manager 


said smootlily. " Clearly he has done something to 
bring him under the suspicion of the law. Under these 
circumstances it would be more agreeable to the man- 
agement of the hotel if Monsieur would depart." 

Buncombe did not wish to depart. The hotel at 
which Phyllis Poynton's trunks were still awaiting her 
return was the hotel at which he wished to stay. 

" Look here, Monsieur Huber," he said. " I give you 
my word of honor that I have broken no law, nor en- 
gaged in any criminal action whatever since I came to 
Paris. This game of having me watched is simply a 
piece of bluff. I have done nothing except make in- 
quiries in different quarters respecting those two young 
English people who are still missing. In doing this I 
seem to have run up against what is nothing more nor 
less than a disgraceful conspiracy. Every hand is 
against me. Instead of helping me to discover them, 
the police seem only anxious to cover up the tracks of 
those young people." 

The manager looked down at his desk. 

" We hotel-keepers," he said, " are very much in the 
hands of the police. We cannot judge between them 
and the people whom they treat as suspected persons. 
I know very well. Sir George, that you are a person 
of respectability and character, but if the police choose 
to think otherwise I must adapt my views to theirs. I 
am sorry, but we must really ask you to leave." 

Sir George turned on his heel." 

"Very good!" he said. "I will go and take rooms 

He left the hotel, and walked towards the Kitz. At 
the corner of the Place Vendome an automobile was 
pulled up with a jerk within a few feet of him. A 


tired-looking boy leaned over wearily towards him from 
the front seat. 

"Sir George," he said, "can you give me five 
minutes ? " 

" With pleasure ! " he answered. " I was going into 
the Eitz. Come and have something." 

" To Maxim's, if you don't mind," the Vicomte said. 
"It will take us only a moment." 

Sir George stepped in. The Vicomte, in whose fingers 
the wheel seemed scarcely to rest, so light and ap- 
parently careless was his touch, touched a lever by his 
side, released the clutch, and swung the great car round 
the corner at a speed which made Duncombe grasp the 
sides. At a pace which seemed to him most ridiculous, 
the}^ dashed into the Rue de Rivoli, and with another 
sharp turn pulled up before Maxim's. The Vicomte 
rose with a yawn as though he had just awoke from 
a refreshing dream. His servant slipped off his fur coat, 
and he descended to the pavement faultlessly dressed 
and quite unruffled. The commissionaire preceded them, 
hat in hand, to the door. A couple of waiters ushered 
them to the table which the Vicomte intimated by a 

" I myself," he remarked, drawing off his gloves, " take 
nothing but absinthe. What may I have the pleasure 
of ordering for you ? " 

Duncombe ordered a whisky and soda. 

" I think," he said, " there is one thing which I ought 
to tell you at once. I am being shadowed by the police. 
The man who has just arrived, and who seems a little 
breathless, is, I believe, the person whose duty it is to 
dog my footsteps in the daytime." 

" What a pity ! " the Vicomte murmured. " I would at 


least have taken you a mile or so round the boulevards if 
I had known. But wait 1 You are sure — that it is the 
police by whom you are being watched ? " 

" Quite," Buncombe answered. " The manager of the 
hotel has spoken to me about it. He has asked me, in 
fact, to leave." 

" To leave the hotel ? " 

" Yes ! I was on my way to the Eitz to secure rooms 
when I met you." 

The Vicomte sipped his absinthe gravely. 

" I should not take those rooms," he said. " You will 
in all probability not occupy them." , 

" Why not ? " 

" It has been decided," the Vicomte said, " that you are 
to be driven out of Paris. In the end you will have to 
go. I think if I were you I would not wait. The train 
de luxe to Calais is more comfortable than a wet bench 
in the Morgue or a French prison." 

" Who has decided this ? " Duncombe asked. " What 
Emperor has signed the decree of my banishment ? " 

" There have been worse served Emperors," the Vi- 
comte remarked, " than the, shall we say person, who 
bids you go ! " 

" What is my offence ? " Duncombe asked. 

"I know nothing," the Vicomte answered slowly, 
pouring himself out some absinthe. 

" Who are my judges, then ? What secret authorities 
have I incensed ? I am an honest man, engaged in an 
honest mission. AVhy should I not be allowed to 
execute it ? " 

The Vicomte half closed his eyes. Duncombe was a 
little angry. The Vicomte regarded him with reproach- 
ful wonder. 


" You ask me so many questions," he murmured, " and 
I tell you that I know nothing. I have asked you to 
come here with me because I had just this to say. I 
can answer no questions, offer no explanations. I have 
no particular liking for you, but I am afflicted with a 
cursedly sensitive disposition, and — there are things 
which I find it hard to watch with equanimity. There 
is a train for England at nine o'clock this evening. Sir 
George. Take it!" 

Buncombe rose from his seat. 

" I am very much obliged to you," he said. " I believe 
that you are giving me what you believe to be good advice. 
Whether I can follow it or not is a different matter." 

The Vicomte sighed. 

" You Englishmen," he said, " are so obstinate. It is 
the anxiety concerning your friends, I suppose, which 
keeps you here ? " 

" Yes ! " 

The Vicomte hesitated. He looked up and down the 
room, and especially at the man whom Buncombe had 
pointed out to him. He had edged nearer and nearer 
till he was almost within earshot. The Vicomte's voice, 
always low, became a whisper. 

"I can tell you this much, at any rate," he said. 
" Whatever their present condition may be, it is more 
likely to be improved than made worse by your depart- 
ure. You are a well-meaning person. Monsieur, but you 
do nobody any good here, and you risk — more than I 
dare tell you." 

The Vicomte turned away to greet a little party of 
friends who had just entered. Buncombe strolled back 
to the hotel, and found Spencer walking restlessly up 
and down the hall waiting for him. 


" At last ! " he exclaimed, with a sigh of relief. " Come 
up into my room, Spencer. We can talk there." 

He rang for the lift, and as they ascended he watched 
the other anxiously. Spencer was looking pale and dis- 
turbed. His eyes showed signs of sleeplessness, and he 
had not the air of a man who has good news to impart. 
As soon as they were inside the room he locked the 

" Buncombe," he said, " there is a train which leaves 
Paris for London at four o'clock. You must catch it — 
if you are allowed to. Don't look like that, man. I tell 
you you 've got to do it. If you are in Paris to-night you 
will be in prison." 

" For what offence ? " Buncombe asked. 

" For the murder of Mademoiselle Flossie. They are 
training the witnesses now. The whole thing is as easy 
as A B C. They can prove you so guilty that not even 
your best friend would doubt it. Pack your clothes, 
man, or ring for the valet." 

Buncombe hesitated, but he, too, was pale. 

" Are you serious, Spencer ? " he asked. 

" I am so serious," Spencer answered, " that unless you 
obey me I will not move another finger in this mat- 
ter. You lose nothing by going. All that a human 
being can do I will do ! But you lose your life, or, at 
any rate, your liberty if you stay." 

Buncombe bowed his head to fate. 

" Very well ! " he said. " I will go ! " 



" '\7'C)U have heard now," Duncombe said, finally, 
i "the whole history of my wanderings. I feel 
like a man who has been beating the air, who has been 
at war with unseen and irresistible forces. I never 
seemed to have a chance. In plain words, I have failed 
utterly ! " 

The two men were sitting in a room impossible of 
classification. It might have been a study, smoking- 
room, or gun-room. The walls were adorned with 
stags' heads and various trophies of the chase. There 
were guns and rifles in plenty in a rack by the chimney- 
piece, a row of bookcases along the north wall, golf 
clubs, cricket bats, and foils everywhere. A pile of 
logs ready for burning stood in the open grate, and 
magnificent rugs were spread about the floor. Xowhere 
was there the slightest trace of a woman's presence, for 
Duncombe had no sisters, and his was entirely a bachelor 

Duncombe himself and Andrew Pelham were seated 
in great easy-chairs in front of the open window. It 
was his first fine evening at home, and he was drinking 
in great draughts of the fresh pure air, fragrant with 
the perfume of roses and huge clusters of wallflowers. 
Paris had seemed to him like a great oven. All the 
time he had been half stifled, and yet he knew very 
well that- at a word from Spencer he would have re- 


turned there at an hour's notice. He knew, too, that 
the home which he had loved all his days could never 
be quite the same place to him again. 

Andrew roused himself from rather a prolonged 

" You were a brick to go, George," he said. " It is 
more than any one else in the world would have done 
for me." 

Dimcombe laughed a little uneasily. He knocked the 
ashes from his pipe and refilled it slowly. 

"Andrew," he said, "I don't want to seem a fraud. 
I dare say that I might have gone for you alone — but I 
did n't." 

His friend smiled faintly. 

" Ah ! " he remarked. " I had forgotten your little 
infatuation. It has n't worn off yet, then ? " 

" No, nor any signs of it," Duncombe answered 
bluntly. " It 's an odd position for a matter-of-fact 
person like myself, is n't it ? I tell you, Andrew, I Ve 
really tried to care for some of the girls about here. 
The place wants a mistress, and I 'm the tenth baronet 
in the direct line. One 's got to think about these things, 
you know. I 've tried hard, and I 've never even come 
near it." 

" It will wear off," Andrew said. " It is a very charm- 
ing little fancy, a most delightful bit of sentiment, George, 
but with nothing behind it it can't last." 

" Perhaps not," Duncombe answered quietly. " All 
that I know is that it has shown no signs of wearing 
off up to now. It was in Paris exactly as it is here. 
And I know very well that if I thought it would do 
her the least bit of good I would start back to Paris or 
to the end of the world to-night." 


"I must readjust my views of you, George," his 
friend said with mild satire. " I always looked upon 
you as fair game for the Norfolk dowagers with their 
broods of daughters, but I never contemplated your 
fixing your affections upon a little piece of paste- 

" Kot ! It is the girl herself," Dujicombe declared. 

" But you have never seen her." 

Duncombe shrugged his shoulders. He said nothing. 
What was the use ? Never seen her ! Had she not 
found her way into every beautiful place his life had 
knowledge of? 

" If you had," Andrew murmured — " ah, well, the 
picture is like her. I remember when she was a 
child. She was always fascinating, always delightful 
to watch," 

Duncombe looked out upon the gardens which he 
loved, and sighed. 

"If only Spencer would send for me to go back to 
Paris," he said with a sigh. 

Andrew turned his head. 

"You can imagine now," he said, "what I have been 
suffering. The desire for action sometimes is almost 
maddening. I think that the man who sits and waits 
has the hardest task." 

They were silent for some time, smoking steadily. 
Then Duncombe reverted once more to his wanderings. 

" You remember the story they told me at the Caf^, 
Andrew," he said. " It was a lie, of course, but was 
Miss Poynton anything of an artist ? " 

" To the best of my belief," Andrew answered, " she 
has never touched a brush or a pencil since she left 


Duncombe looked out into the gathering twilight. 

" It is a devil's riddle, this ! " he said slowly. " Why 
did she go to that place at all ? " 

" God only knows ! " Andrew murmured. 

Duncombe's teeth were hard set. A paper-knife, 
which he had caught up from the table, snapped in 
his fingers. There was something in his throat which 
nearly choked him. 

" Phyllis Poynton," Andrew continued, " was as sweet 
and pure a woman as ever breathed. She must have 
loathed that place. She could only have gone there to 
seek for her brother, or " 

" Or for whom ? " 

*' For those who knew where he was." 

Duncombe turned his head. 

" Andrew ! " 

" Yes, old chap ! " 

" Let me look at her photograph again." 

Andrew drew it from his pocket and passed it over. 
Duncombe studied it for several moments under the 

" You are right, Andrew," he said slowly. " For 
her the other things would not be possible. I 
wonder " 

His fingers clung to the photograph. He looked 
.across at his friend. There was a slight flush in his 
face. He spoke nervously. 

" Andrew," he said, " I 'm afraid it sounds a bit brutal, 
but — this photograph is no use to you just now, is it, 
until your eyes get better. Will you lend it me ? " 

" I could n't," Andrew answered quietly. " I can't 
see it now of course, but I like to feel it in my pocket, 
and it will be the first thing I shall look at when the 


doctor lets me take off these beastly glasses — if ever 
he does. Until then — well, I like to feel I've got it. 
That's alll" 

They both smoked furiously for several moments with- 
out looking at one another. Duncombe spoke first. 

" Andrew ! " 

« Well ? " 

"If she comes back — shall you ever ask her to marry 

" I don't know, George. I 'm poor, and I 'm twelve 
years older than she is. I don't know." 

There was another silence. Then the conversation 
drifted back once more to the one subject which was 
monopolizing the thought of both of them. 

" I tell you what seems to me to be the most extraor- 
dinary part of the whole business," Duncombe said. 
" First the brother disappears. Then without a word 
to any one the sister also rushes off to Paris, and van- 
ishes from the face of the earth after a series of ex- 
traordinary proceedings. One supposes naturally that 
if they have come to harm anywhere — if there has 
been a crime — there must have been a motive. WTiat 
is it ? You say that their banking account has been 
undisturbed ? " 

" It was last week. I should hear if any cheques 
were presented." 

" And the boy's letter of credit even has never been 
drawn upon ! " 

" No 1 Not since he left Vienna." 

" Then the motive cannot be robbery. Thank Heaven," 

Duncombe added, with a little shudder, " that it was the 

boy who went first." 

« Don't ! " 



A great winged insect came buzzing into the room. 
Buncombe struck viciously at it with the palm of his 

" Lord ! " he muttered, " what a fool I am ! I 've never 
been away from home before, Andrew, without longing 
to get back, and here I am, just back from Paris in 
August, from turning night into day, from living just 
the sort of life I hate, and I 'd give anything to be 
going back there to-morrow. I 'm a haunted man, 
Andrew. I got up last night simply because I could n't 
sleep, and walked down as far as the paddock. I 
seemed to see her face in all the shadowy corners, to 
see her moving towards me from amongst the trees. 
And I 'm not an imaginative person, Andrew, and I 've 
got no nerves. Look ! " 

He held out his hand, strong and firm and brown. It 
was as steady as a rock. 

" I can't sleep," he continued, " I can't rest. Is there 
witchcraft in this thing, Andrew ? " 

Andrew Pelham laughed shortly. It was a laugh 
which had no kinship to mirth. 

"And I," he said, "have seen her grow up. We 
were boy and girl together. I stole apples for her. I 
have watched her grow from girlhood into womanhood. 
I have known flesh and blood, and you a cardboard 
image. I too am a strong man, and I am helpless. I 
lie awake at night and I think. It is as though the 
red flames of hell were curling up around me. George, 
if she has come to any evil, whether I am blind or 
whether I can see, I '11 grope my way from country to 
country till my hand is upon the throat of the beast 
who has harmed her." 

The man's voice shook with passion. Buncombe was 


awed into silence. He had known Andrew Pelham 
always as a good-natured, good-hearted giant, beloved 
of children and animals, deeply religious, a man whose 
temper, if he possessed such a thing, was always strictly 
under control. Such an outburst as this was a revela- 
tion. Buncombe understood then how slight a thing his 
own suffering was. 

"You shall not go alone, Andrew," he said softly. 
" But for the present we must wait. If any one can 
help us, Spencer will." 

A servant came in with the whisky and glasses, and 
silently arranged them upon the table. Buncombe rose 
and attended to his duties as host. 

"Can I get you anything further, sir?" the man 

" Nothing, thanks," Buncombe answered. " Tell the 
servants to go to bed. We will lock up. Say when, 
Andrew ! " 

Andrew took his glass mechanically. Out in the lane 
the silence of the summer night was suddenly broken 
by the regular tread of horses' feet and the rumbling of 
vehicles. Buncombe Hall was built like many of the 
old-fashioned houses in the country, with its back to 
the road, and the window at which they were sitting 
looked out upon it. Buncombe leaned forward in his 

" Visitors by the last train going up to Eunton Place," 
he remarked. " Eunton has quite a large party for the 
first. Hullo ! They 're stopping. I 'd better go out." 

He rose from his chair. The omnibus had stopped 
in the lane, and they could hear the voices of the 
occupants clearly through the soft darkness. Some one 
was apparently getting out, and stumbled. A girl's soft 


laugh rang out distinctly above the man's exclamation. 
Dun combe was already stepping over the window-sill 
when he felt a clutch like iron upon his shoulder. He 
looked round in amazement. Andrew's face was trans- 
formed. He was struggling for words. 

" Her voice ! " he exclaimed hoarsely. " Am I dream- 
ing, George ? It was her voice ! " 



THE door of the omnibus was opened as Buncombe 
stepped over the low wall into the road. A tall 
man in a long light Inverness descended. 

" Hullo, Buncombe ! " he exclaimed, holding out his 
hand ; " I was coming in to see you for a moment." 

" Good man ! " Buncombe answered. " Bring your 
friends, won't you ? " 

He held open the gate hospitably, but Lord Kunton 
shook his head. 

" I only wanted a word with you," he said. " We 're all 
starving, and if you don't mind we '11 get on as quickly 
as we can. About to-morrow. You shoot with us, of 
course ? " 

" Belighted ! " Buncombe answered. 

" Cresswell met me at the station," Lord Eunton con- 
tinued. " I 'd drawn out a plan for the shoot, but it 
seems that Cresswell — old fool — hasn't got his har- 
vest in from the two fields by Ketton's Gorse. "What I 
wanted to ask you was if we might take your turnips 
up from ]\Iile's bottom to the north end of the gorse. 
We can make our circuit then without a break." 

"My dear fellow!" Buncombe protested, "was it 
worth while asking me such a thing ? Of course you 

" That 's settled, then," Lord Eunton declared, turning 
back towards the omnibus. " Let me introduce you to 


my friends," he added, resting his hand upon the other's 
shoulder, " and then we '11 be off." 

Duncombe, in whose ears his friend's cry was still 
ringing, pressed eagerly forward. 

"This is my neighbor, Sir George Duncombe," 
Lord Kunton said, looking into the carriage, "who 
will shoot with us to-morrow. Miss Fielding and 
Mr. Fielding, Lady Angrave and the Baron Yon 

Lady Angrave held out her hand. 

" Sir George and I are almost old friends," she said, 
with a somewhat languid smile. "We were both at 
Castle Holkham last autumn." 

Duncombe murmured something conventional as 
he bowed over her fingers. His whole attention was 
riveted upon the tall, pale girl in the further corner 
of the omnibus. Her acknowledgment of his intro- 
duction had been of the slightest, and her features 
were obscured by a white veil. She looked away from 
him at once and continued a whispered conversation 
with the white-haired gentleman at her side. Dun- 
combe could think of no excuse for addressing 

" I shall have the pleasure of meeting you all again 
to-morrow," he said, closing the door after Lord Runton. 
" I won't keep you now. I know what the journey is 
down from town. Good night, Runton ! " 

" Good night, George. Ten o'clock sharp ! " 

The carriage rolled off, and Duncombe returned to his 
own domain. Andrew was waiting for him impatiently 
by the gate. 

"Well!" he exclaimed eagerly, "you have seen her. 


The man was trembling with excitement. There were 
drops of perspiration upon his forehead. His voice 
sounded unnatural. 

" I saw a young lady in the carriage," Duncombe an- 
swered, " or rather I did not see her, for she wore a veil, 
and she scarcely looked at me. But she was introduced 
to me as Miss Fielding, and her father was with her." 

" Fielding ! Fielding ! " Andrew repeated. " Never 
mind that. What was she like! What colored hair 
had she?" 

" I told you that she kept her veil down," Duncombe 
repeated. "Her hair was a sort of deep red-brown — 
what I could see of it. But, seriously, Andrew, what 
is the use of discussing her ? One might as soon expect 
one of my housemaids to change into Phyllis Poynton, 
as to discover her with a brand-new father, a brand-new 
name, and a guest at Eunton Place." 

Andrew was silent for a moment. He touched his 
spectacles with a weary gesture, and covered his eyes 
with his hand. 

" Yes," he said, " I suppose you are right. I suppose 
I am a fool. But — the voice ! " 

""The laughter of women," said Duncombe, " is music 
all the world over. One cannot differ very much from 
the other." 

" You are quite wrong, George," Andrew said. " The 
voices of women vary like the thumb-marks of crimi- 
nals. There are no two attuned exactly alike. It is 
the receptive organs that are at fault. We, who 
have lost one sense, find the others a little keener. 
The laughter of that girl — George, will you keep me 
a few days longer ? Somehow I cannot bring myself 
to leave until I have heard her voice once more." 


Duncombe laughed heartily. 

"My dear fellow," he said, "I shall bless your un- 
commonly sensitive ears if they keep you here with 
me even for an extra few days. You shall have your 
opportunity, too. I always dine at Kunton Place after 
our first shoot, and I know Eunton quite well enough to 
take you. You shall sit at the same table. Hullo, 
what 's this light wobbling up the drive ? " 

He strolled a yard or so away, and returned. 

" A bicycle," he remarked. " One of the grooms 
has been down to the village. I shall have to speak to 
Burdett in the morning. I wiU not have these fellows 
coming home at all sorts of times in the morning. 
Come along in, Andrew. Just a drain, eh ? And a 
cigarette — and then to bed. Eunton 's keen on his bag, 
and they say that German, Von Eothe, is a fine shot. 
Can't let them have it all their own way." 

"Xo fear of that," Andrew answered, stepping 
through the window. *' 1 11 have the cigarette, please, 
but I don't care about any more whisky. The * Field ' 
mentioned your name only a few weeks ago as one of 
the finest shots at rising birds in the country, so I don't 
think you need fear the German." 

" I ought to hold my own with the partridges," 
Duncombe admitted, helping himself from the siphon, 
"but come in, come in!" 

A servant entered with a telegram upon a silver 

" A boy has just brought this from Eunton, sir," he 

Duncombe tore it open. He was expecting a message 
from his gun-maker, and he opened it without any 
particular interest, but as he read, his whole manner 


changed. He held the sheet in front of him long 
enough to have read it a dozen times. He could not 
restrain the slight start — a half exclamation. Then 
his teeth came together. He remembered the servant 
and looked up. 

" There will be no answer to-night, Murray," he said. 
" Give the boy a shilliug and some supper. If he goes 
home by the Eunton gates, tell him to be sure and close 
them, because of the deer." 

" Very good, sir ! " 

The man departed. Buncombe laid the telegram 
upon the table. He felt that Andrew was waiting 
impatiently for him to speak. 


" The telegram is from Spencer," Duncombe said. 

"From Paris?" 

« Yes." 

" He has discovered something ? " 

" On the contrary," Duncombe answered, " he is 
asking me for information, and very curious informa- 
tion, too." 

" What does he want to know ? " 

" The telegram," Duncombe said slowly, " is in. French. 
He asks me to wire him at once the names of all the 
guests at Eunton Place." 

Andrew struck the table a mighty blow with his 
clenched fist. 

" I knew it ! " he cried. " It was her laugh, her 
voice. Phyllis Poynton is there ! " 

Duncombe looked at his friend incredulously. 

" My dear Andrew," he said, " be reasonable. The 
young lady and her father in that omnibus were intro- 
duced to me by Eunton himself as Mr. and Miss Fielding. 


They are going to his house as his guests. Naturally, 
therefore, he knows all about them. Miss Poynton, as 
you have told me more than once, is an orphan." 

" Common-sense won't even admit it as a matter of 
argument," Andrew said. " I know that quite well. 
But how do you account for Spencer's telegram ? " 

"Remember that he is a newspaper correspondent," 
Buncombe said. " He has many interests and many 
friends with whom he is constantly exchanging in- 
formation. It is a coincidence, I admit. But the 
wildest flight of imagination could not make any 
more of it." 

" You must be right," Andrew said quietly. " It all 
sounds, and is, so convincing. But I wish that I had 
not heard that laugh 1 " 



DUNCOMBE leaned his gun up against a gate. A 
few yards away his host was talking to the ser- 
vants who had brought down luncheon. The rest of 
the party were only just in sight a field or two 

" Have a glass of sherry before lunch, George ? " his 
host asked, strolling towards him. 

" Nothing to drink, thanks ! I 'd like a cigarette, if 
you have one." 

Lord Kunton produced his case, and a servant brought 
them matches. They both leaned over the gate, and 
watched the scattered little party slowly coming towards 

" Who is your friend Fielding ? " Dun combe asked, 
a little bluntly, 

" Fellow from New York," Lord Eunton answered. 
" He 's been very decent to my brother out there, and 
Archibald wrote and asked me to do all we could for 
them. The girl is very handsome. You'll see her at 
dinner to-night." 

" Here for long ? '' 

" No, unfortunately," Lord Eunton answered. " I had 
very hard work to get them to come at all. Cicely 
has written them three or four times, I think, but 


they Ve always had engagements. They 're only staying 
till Monday, I think. Very quiet, inoffensive sort of 
chap, Fielding, but the girl 's a ripper ! Hullo ! Here 
they are. 1 11 introduce you." 

A gi'oom had thrown open the gate of the field across 
which they were looking, and Lady Eunton from the 
box seat of a small mail phaeton waved her whip. 
She drove straight across the furrows towards them 
a little recklessly, the groom running behind. By 
her side was a girl with coils of deep brown hair, and 
a thick black veil worn after the fashion of the travel- 
ling American. 

" Just in time, are n't we ? " Lady Eunton remarked, 
as she brought the horses to a standstill. "Help me 
down. Jack, and look after Miss Fielding, Sir George. 
By the bye, have you two met yet ? " 

Buncombe bowed — he was bareheaded — and held 
out his hands. 

" I saw Miss Fielding for a moment last night," he 
said, " or rather I did n't see her. We were introduced, 
however. What do you think of our maligned English 
weather, Miss Fielding ? " he asked. 

She raised her veil and looked at him deliberately. 
He had been prepared for this meeting, and yet it was 
with difficulty that he refrained from a start. The like- 
ness of the photograph (it was even at that moment in 
his pocket) was wonderful. She looked a little older, 
perhaps. There were shadows in her face of which 
there were no traces in the picture. And yet the like- 
ness was wonderful. 

" To-day at least is charming," she said. " But then 
I am quite used to your climate, you know. I have 
lived in Europe almost as much as in America." 


She certainly had no trace of any accent. She 
spoke a little more slowly, perhaps, than most young 
Englishwomen, but there was nothing whatever in her 
words or in her pronunciation of them to suggest a 
transatlantic origin. She stood by his side looking 
about her with an air of interest, and Buncombe began 
to wonder whether after all she was not more beautiful 
than the photograph which he had treasured so jeal- 
ously. He became conscious of a desire to keep her 
by his side. 

" Is your father shooting. Miss Fielding ? " 

She laughed softly. 

"You don't know my father. Sir George," she an- 
swered. " He hates exercise, detests being out of doors, 
and his idea of Paradise when he is away from business 
is to be in a large hotel where every one speaks English, 
where there are tapes and special editions and an 
American bar." 

Buncombe laughed. 

"Then I am afraid Mr. Fielding will find it rather 
hard to amuse himself down here." 

"Well, he's discovered the telephone," she said. 
" He 's spending the morning ringing up people all over 
the country. He was talking to his bankers when we 
came out. Oh, here come the rest of them. How tired 
they look, poor things — especially the Baron ! Nature 
never meant him to tramp over ploughed fields, I am 
sure. Baron, I was just saying how warm you 

The Baron took off his cap, gave up his gun to a 
keeper, and turned a glowing face towards them. 

" My dear young lady," he declared, " I am warm. 
I admit it, but it is good for me. Very good indeed. 


I tried to make your father walk with us. He will be 
sure to suffer some day if he takes no exercise." 

" Oh, father 's never ill," the girl answered. " But 
then he eats nothing, Sir George, I hope you 're going 
to devote yourself to me at luncheon. I'm terribly 

" So we all are," Lady Eunton declared. " Come 
along, every one." 

Luncheon was served in a large open bam, pleas- 
antly fragrant of dried hay, and with a delightful 
view of the sea far away in the distance. Miss Fielding 
chattered to every one, was amusing and amused. 
The Baron gave her as much of his attention as he was 
ever disposed to bestow upon any one at meal-times, 
and Duncombe almost forgot that he had breakfasted 
at eight o'clock. 

" Charming young person, that ! " said Lady Eun- 
ton's neighbor to her. " One of our future Duchesses, 
I suppose ? " 

Lady Eunton smiled. 

"Lots of money, Teddy," she answered. "What a 
pity you have n't a title ! " 

The young man — he was in the Foreign Office — 
sighed, and shook his head. 

" Such things are not for me," he declared senten- 
tiously. " My affections are engaged." 

" That is n't the least reason why you should n't 
marry money," her ladyship declared, lighting a cig- 
arette. " Go and talk to her ! " 

" Can't spoil sport ! " he answered, shaking his head. 
"By Jove! Duncombe is making the running, though, 
is n't he ? " 

Her ladyship raised her glasses. Duncombe and 


Miss Fielding had strolled outside the ham. He was 
showing her his house — a very picturesque old place 
it looked, down in the valley. 

" It 's nothing but a farmhouse, of course," he said. 
"No pretensions to architecture or anything of that 
sort, of course, but it 's rather a comfortable old place." 

" I think it is perfectly charming," the gui said. 
"Do you live there all alone ? You have sisters 
perhaps ? " 

He shook his head. 

" No such luck ! " he answered. " Mine is entirely 
a bachelor establishment. A great part of the time 
I am alone. Just now I have a pal staying with me — 
awfully decent chap, from Devonshire." 

She was certainly silent for a moment. He fancied 
too that there was a change in her face. 

"From Devonshire!" she repeated, with a careless- 
ness which, if it was not natural, was exceedingly well 
assumed. " I believe I knew some people once who 
came from there. What is your friend's name. Sir 

He turned slowly towards her. 

" Andrew Pelham 1 " he said quietly. " He comes 
from a place called Eaynesworth." 

" He is staying here now — with you ? " 

"Yes," he answered gravely. 

It was not his fancy this time. Of that he felt sure. 
Her face for the moment had been the color of chalk — 
a little exclamation had been strangled upon her lips. 
She shot a quick glance at him. He met it steadily. 

" You know the name ? " he asked. 

She shook her head. 

"The name — yes," she answered, "but not the 


person. A very old friend of mine was called Andrew 
Pelham, but he was an American, and he has never 
been in England. It startled me, though, to hear the 
exact name from you." 

She was herself again. Her explanation was care- 
lessly given. It sounded even convincing, but Dun- 
combe himself was not convinced. He knew that she 
wanted him to be. He felt her eyes seeking his, study- 
ing his face. Perhaps she was only anxious that he 
should not misunderstand. 

" George, are you ready ? " his host called out. 
"We're going to take Smith's pastures." 

" Quite ! " Buncombe answered. " Until this evening. 
Miss Fielding." 

"You are dining at Runton Place?" she asked 

" Yes," he answered. " Will you tell me all about 
your Andrew Pelham ? " 

She raised her eyes to his and smiled. 

"Do you think that you would be interested?" she 

" You know that I should," he answered quietly. 

For a time he shot badly. Then he felt that his 
host's eye was upon him, and pulled himself together. 
But he was never at his best. He felt that the whole 
world of his sensations had been suddenly disturbed. 
It was impossible that there could be any connection 
between this girl and the photograph which had first 
fired him with the impulse to undertake that most 
extraordinary and quixotic mission. Yet the fact 
remained that the girl herself had had very much the 
same effect upon him as his first sight of the photo- 
graph. It was a coincidence, of course. Miss Fielding 


was charming. There was no reason why he should 
not indulge to the full his admiration of her. She had 
affected him in a most curious manner. Another man 
would have declared himself in love with her. It was 
not possible that she could be any one but Miss Field- 
iug. That start which he had fancied that he had 
noticed, the sudden aging of her face, the look almost of 
fear ! Absurd ! He was losing his nerves. It was not 
possible, he told himself steadfastly. And yet 

Some of the women were following them in a 
leisurely sort of way behind. Miss Fielding was there, 
walking a little apart. She carried her hat in her hand. 
The wind, which was blowing the skirts of her white 
cloth dress about her, was making havoc in her glorious 
hair. She walked with her head thrown back, with 
all the effortless grace of youth — a light heart, an easy 
conscience. He deliberately left his place and walked 
back to meet her. She waved her hand gayly. There 
was color in her cheeks now, and her eyes laughed into 
his. The shadows were gone. He felt that this was 
madness, and yet he said what he had come back to say. 

"I thought that you might be interested to know. 
Miss Fielding, that you will meet the gentleman — with 
the same name as your friend — this evening. Lord 
Eunton has been good enough to ask him to come up 
and dine." 

She nodded gayly. 

" What a crowd of sentimental memories his coming 
will evoke ! " she declared. " Be nice to me, won't you, 
and help me dispel them ? '^ 

"Perhaps," he said, smiling with a great relief; "I 
might prefer to try to construct a few on my own 



" Go and do your duty," she commanded, laughing. 

Duncombe hastened to his place. His eyes were 
bright. He felt that he was walking upon air. 

" What a double distilled ass I nearly made of my- 
self!" he muttered. 

' Go and do your duty,' she commanded. 

[Pa^e 114 



SHE came into the room a little late, and her en- 
trance created almost a sensation. Buncombe 
only knew that she wore a black gown and looked di\ine. 
Lady Eunton murmured "Paquin" with a sigh and 

"These girls might at least leave us black," she 
murmured to her neighbor. "What pearls!" 

Buncombe stepped forward to meet her. He could 
not keep the admiration from his eyes. Her shoulders 
and slim graceful neck were as white as alabaster, her 
hair was a gorgeous brown kissed into fine gold glim- 
mering as though with a touch of some hidden fire. 
She moved with the delightful freedom of absolute 
naturalness. He murmured something which sounded 
ridiculously commonplace, and she laughed at him. 

" Bo you know that you are going to take me in ? " 
she said. "I hope that you are prepared to be very 
amusing. Bo tell me which is your friend." 

Then Buncombe remembered Andrew, who was 
standing by his side. He turned towards him, and 
the words suddenly died away upon his lips. Andrew's 
tall frame was shaking as though with some power- 
ful emotion. He was standing with his head thrust 
forward as though listening intently. Buncombe set 
his teeth. 


"Will you allow me to present my friend Miss 
Fielding ? " he said. " Andrew, this is Miss Fielding. 
Mr. Pelham, Miss Fielding." 

She held out her hand and took his passive fingers. 

" I am so glad to know you, Mr. Pelham," she said 
pleasantly. " Sir George gave me quite a shock to- 
day when he spoke of you. I was once very nearly 
engaged to an Andrew Pelham in Baltimore, and I had 
most distressing visions of all my old sweethearts turn- 
ing up to spoil my good time here." 

Andrew's voice sounded odd and restrained. 

" I have never been in America," he said. 

She laughed. 

" You need not be afraid that I am going to claim 
you," she declared. " You are at least a foot taller than 
my Andrew. You don't even inspire me with any tender 
recollections of him. Baron, I do hope that you have 
not taken too much exercise." 

" My dear young lady," he answered, bowing, " I never 
felt better in my life ! Be thankful that it is not your 
hard fate to be my dinner companion. I am so hungry 
I should have no time for conversation." 

" On the contrary," she declared, "I — almost regret 
it ! I much prefer to do some of the talking myself, but 
I seldom get a chance. Will you promise to give me a 
show to-night. Sir George ? " 

" As long as you permit me to say two or three things 
which are in my mind," he answered, lowering his 
voice a little, " you may do all the rest of the talking." 

"Dear me, I am curious already," she exclaimed. 
"What are the two or three things. Sir George? 
Wliy 1 Do you see — nearly every one has gone," she 
added suddenly. " Come along ! " 


She laid her hand upon his arm and led him away. 
Soon he was by her side at tlie table. Their com- 
panions were uninteresting. Andrew was out of sight. 
Buncombe forgot everything else in the world except 
that he was with her. 

Their conversation was of trifles, yet intimate trifles. 
The general talk buzzed all roimd them. Neither made 
any effort to arrest it. To Buncombe she seemed simply 
the image he had created and worshipped suddenly 
come to life. That it was not in fact her picture 
went for nothing. There was no infidelity. The girl 
who had existed in his dreams was here. It was for 
her that he had departed from the even tenor of his 
ways, for her he had searched in Paris, for her he had 
braved the horrors of that unhappy week. Already 
he felt that she belonged to him, and in a vague sort 
of way she, too, seemed to be letting herself drift, 
to be giving color to his unconscious assumption 
by her lowered tone, by the light in her eyes which 
answered his, by all those little nameless trifles which 
go to the sealing of unwritten compacts. 

Once her manner changed. Her father, who was 
on the opposite side of the table a little way off, leaned 
forward and addressed her. 

"Say, Sybil, where did we stay in Paris? I've for- 
gotten the name of the place." 

"L'hotel dAthfenes," she answered, and at once re- 
sumed her conversation with Buncombe. 

But somehow the thread was broken. Buncombe 
found himself watching the little gray man opposite, 
who ate and drank so sparingly, who talked only when 
he was spoken to, and yet who seemed to be taking 
a keen but covert interest in everything that went on 


about him. Her father • There was no likeness, no 
shadow of a likeness. Yet Buncombe felt almost a per- 
sonal interest in him. They would know one another 
better some day, he felt. 

" So you 've been in Paris lately ? " he asked her 

She nodded. 

" For a few days." 

" I arrived from there barely a week ago," he re- 

" I hate the jjlace ! " she answered. " Talk of some- 
thing else." 

And he obeyed. 

The second interruption came from Andrew. During 
a momentary lull in the conversation they heard his firm 
clear voice talking. 

" My time was up yesterday, but I find so much to 
interest me down here that I think I shall stay on for 
a few more days, if my host remains as hospitable as 

" So much to interest him," she murmured. " Are 
not all places the same to the blind ? What does he 
mean ? " 

" He is not really blind ! " Buncombe answered, lower- 
ing his voice. "He can see things very dimly. The 
doctor has told him that if he wears those glasses for a 
few more months he may be able to preserve some 
measure of eyesight. Poor chap ! " 

"He does not attract me — your friend," she said 
a little coldly. " What can he find to interest him so 
much here ? Do you see how he keeps his head turned 
this way ? It is almost as though he wished to listen 
to what we were saying." 


"There is a sort of reason for that," Diincombe 
answered. " Shall I explain it ? " 

" Do ! " 

"Pelham lives, as I think I told you, in a small 
country-house near Raynesworth," Buncombe began. 
"The hall in his village was occupied by a young 
man — a boy, really — and his sister. Early in the year 
the boy, who had never been abroad, thought that he 
would like to travel a little in Europe. He wandered 
about some time in Germany and Austria, and was 
coming home by Paris. Suddenly all letters from him 
ceased. He did not return. He did not write. He 
drew no money from his letter of credit. He simply 

The girl was proceeding tranquilly with her dinner. 
The story so far did not seem to interest her. 

" His sister, who went over to Paris to meet him, 
found herself quite alone there, and we supposed that 
she devoted herself to searching for him. And then 
curiously enough she, too, disappeared. Letters from 
her suddenly ceased. No one knew what had become 
of her." 

She looked at him with a faint smile. 

" Now," she said, " your story is becoming interesting. 
Do go on. I want to know where you and Mr. Pelham 
come in." 

"Pelham, I think," he continued gravely, "was 
their oldest friend. He sent for me. We were old col- 
lege chums, and I went. This trouble with his eyes 
had only just come on, and he was practically help- 
less — much more helpless than the ordinary blind per- 
son, because it was all new to him. This boy and girl 
were his old and dear friends. He was longing to 


be off to Paris to search for them himself, and yet 
he knew that so far as he was concerned it would 
be simply wasted time. He showed me the girl's 

" Well ? " 

" I went in his place." 

" And did you find either of them ? " 


" I wonder," she said, " why you have told me this 
story ? " 

"I am going to tell you why," he answered, "Be- 
cause when Pelham heard you laugh last night he was 
like a madman. He believed that it was the voice of 
Phyllis Poynton. And I — I — when I saw you, I 
also felt that miracles were at hand. Look here ! '* 

He drew a photograph from his pocket and showed 
it to her. She looked at it long and earnestly. 

" Yes," she admitted, " there is a likeness. It is 
like what I might have been years ago. But will you 
tell me something ? " 

" Of course ! " 

" AVhy do you carry the picture of that girl about 
with you ? " 

He leaned towards her, and at that moment Lady 
Eunton rose from her place. 

"In the winter garden afterwards," he whispered. 
" You have asked me the very question that I wanted 
to answer ! " 



THERE was something strange about Andrew's 
manner as he moved up to Buncombe's side. 
The latter, who was in curiously high spirits, talked 
incessantly for several minutes. Then he came to a 
dead stop. He was aware that his friend was not 

" What is the matter with you, old chap ? " he asked 
abruptly. " You are positively glum." 

Andrew Pelham shook his head. 

" Nothing much I " he said. 

" Eubbish ! AVhat is it ? " 

Andrew dropped his voice almost to a whisper. 
The words came hoarsely. He seemed scarcely master 
of himself. 

"The girl's voice tortures me," he declared. "It 
doesn't seem possible that there can be two so much 
alike. And then Spencer's telegram. What does it 
mean ? " 

" Be reasonable, old fellow ! " Buncombe answered. 
"You knew Phyllis Poynton well. Bo you believe 
that she would be content to masquerade under a false 
name, invent a father, be received here — : Heaven knows 
how — and meet you, an old friend, as a stranger ? 
The thing 's absurd, is n't it ? " 

" Granted, But what about Spencer's telegram ? " 


" It is an enigma, of course. We can only wait for 
his solution. I have wired him the information he 
asked for. In the meantime " 

" Well, in the meantime ? " 

"There is nothing to be gained by framing absurd 
hypotheses. I don't mind telling you, Andrew, that 
I find Miss Fielding the most delightful girl I ever 
met in my life." 

"Tell me exactly, George, how she compares with 
the photograph you have of Phyllis Poynton." 

Buncombe sipped his wine slowly. 

"She is very like it," he said, "and yet there are 
differences. She is certainly a little thinner and taller. 
The features are similar, but the hair is quite differently 
arranged. I should say that Miss Fielding is two or 
three years older than Phyllis Poynton, and she has 
the air of having travelled and been about more." 

" A few months of events," Andrew murmured, " might 
account for all those differences." 

Buncombe laughed as he followed his host*s lead and 

" Get that maggot out of your brain, Andrew," he 
exclaimed, " as quickly as possible. Will you take my 
arm ? Mind the corner." 

They found the drawing-room almost deserted. Eun- 
ton raised his eyeglass and looked around. 

" I bet those women have collared the billiard table," 
he remarked. " Come along, you fellows." 

They re-crossed the hall and entered the billiard- 
room. Lady Runton was playing with the Lord Lieu- 
tenant's wife, the Countess of Appleton. The others 
were all sitting about, either on the lounge or in the 
winter garden beyond. Miss Fielding was standing on 

Miss Fielding and the Baron were still togeth< 

[Paxe iZT, 


the threshold, and Duncombe advanced eagerly towards 
her. On the way, however, he was buttonholed by an 
acquaintance, and the master of the hounds had some- 
thing to say to him afterwards about one of his covers. 
When he was free, Miss Fielding had disappeared. He 
made his way into the winter garden, only to find her 
sitting in a secluded corner with the Baron. She 
looked up at his entrance, but made no sign. Dun- 
combe reluctantly re-entered the billiard-room, and was 
captured by his host for a rubber of bridge. 

The rubber was a long one. Duncombe played badly 
and lost his money. Declining to cut in again, he re- 
turned to the winter garden. Miss Fielding and the 
Baron were still together, only they had now pushed 
their chairs a little further back, and were appar- 
ently engaged in a very confidential conversation. 
Duncombe turned on his heel and re-entered the 

It was not until the party broke up that he found 
a chance of speaking to her. He was sensible at once 
of a change in her manner. She would have passed 
him with a little nod, but he barred her way. 

" You have treated me shockingly," he declared, 
with a smile which was a little forced. " You promised 
to let me sliow you the winter garden." 
■ " Did I ? " she answered. " I am so sorry. I must 
have forgotten all about it. The Baron has been 
entertaining me delightfully. Good night ! " 

He half stood aside. 

" I have n't by any chance offended you, have I ? " 
he asked in a low tone. 

She raised her eyebrows. 

" Certainly not ! " she answered. " Excuse me, won't 


you ? I want to speak to Lady Eimton before she goes 

Buncombe stood on one side and let her pass with a 
stiff bow. As he raised his eyes he saw that Mr. 
Fielding was standing within a few feet of him, smok- 
ing a cigarette. He might almost have overheard their 

" Good night, Mr. Fielding," he said, holding out his 
hand. " Are you staying down here for long ? " 

"For two days, I believe," Mr. Fielding answered. 
" My daughter makes our plans." 

He spoke very slowly, but without any accent. 
Nothing in his appearance, except perhaps the fact that 
he wore a black evening tie, accorded with the popular 
ideas of the travelling American. 

" If you have an hour to spare," Buncombe said, " it 
would give me a great deal of pleasure if you and your 
daughter would walk down and have a look over my 
place. Part of the hall is Elizabethan, and I have some 
relics which might interest Miss Fielding." 

Mr. Fielding removed the cigarette from his mouth. 

" I thank you very much, sir," he said. " We are 
Lord Runton's guests, and our stay is so short that we 
could scarcely make any arrangements to visit else- 
where. Glad to have had the pleasure of meeting you 
all the same." 

Buncombe sought out his host. 

" Runton, old chap," he said, " do me a favor. Bring 
that fellow Fielding and his daughter round to my place 
before they go." 

Lord Runton laughed heartily. 

" Is it a case ? " he exclaimed. " And you, our show 
bachelor, too ! Never mind my chaff, old chap. She 's 


a ripping good-looking girl, and money enough to buy 
the country." 

" I don't mind your chaff," Buncombe answered, " but 
will you bring her ? " 

Lord Eunton looked thoughtful. 

" How the dickens can I ? We are all shooting at the 
Duke's to-moiTOw, and I believe they 're off on Saturday. 
You 're not in earnest by any chance, are you, George ? " 

" Damnably ! " he answered. 

Lord Eunton whistled softly. 

" Fielding does n't shoot," he remarked, " but they 're 
going with us to Beaumanor. Shall I drop him a hint ? 
He might stay a day longer — just to make a few in- 
quiries about you on the spot, you know." 

" Get him to stay a day longer, if you can," Duncombe 
answered, " but don't give me away. The old chap 's 
none too cordial as it is." 

" I must talk to him," Eunton said. " Your Baronetcy 
is a thundering sight better than any of these mushroom 
peerages. He probably does n't imderstand that sort of 
thing. But what about the girl ? Old Von Eothe has 
been making the running pretty strong, you know." 

"We all have to take our chance in that sort of 
thing," Duncombe said quietly. " I am not afraid of 
Von Eothe 1 " 

" I '11 do what I can for you," Eunton promised. 
« Good night ! " 

Andrew, who had left an hour or so earlier, was 
sitting in the library smoking a pipe when his host 

"Not gone to bed yet, then ? " Duncombe remarked. 
" Let me make you a whisky and soda, old chap. 
You look a bit tired." 


" Very good of you — I think I will," Andrew an- 
swered. " And, George, are you sure that I should not 
be putting you out at all if I were to stay — say another 
couple of days with you ? " 

Duncombe wheeled round and faced his friend. His 
reply was not immediate. 

" Andrew," he said, " you know very well that I 
haven't a pal in the world I'd sooner have here than 
you for just as long as you choose to stay, but — forgive 
me if I ask you one question. Is it because you want 
to watch Miss I'ielding that you have changed your 
mind ? " 

" That has a good deal to do with it, George," Andrew 
said quietly. " If I left without meeting that young 
lady again I should be miserable. I want to hear her 
speak when she does not know that any one is listening." 

Duncombe crossed the room and laid his hand upon 
the other's shoulder. 

"Andrew, old fellow," he said, "I can't have it. I 
can't allow even my best friend to spy upon Miss 
Fielding. You see — I've come a bit of a cropper. 
Quick work, I suppose, you 'd say. But I 'm there all 
the same." 

" Who wants to spy upon Miss Fielding ? " Andrew 
exclaimed hoarsely. " She can be the daughter of a 
multi-millionaire or a penniless adventurer for all I care. 
All I want is to be sure that she is n't Phyllis Poynton." 

" You are not yet convinced ? " 


There was a moment's silence. Duncombe walked 
to the window and returned. 

" Andrew," he said, " does n't what I told you just now 
make a difference ? " 


Andrew groaned, 

" Of course it would," he answered, « but — I 'm fool 
enough to feel the same about Phyllis Pojnton." 

Duncombe, in the full glow of sensations which seemed 
to bim to give a larger and more wonderful outlook on 
life, felt his sympathies suddenly awakened. Andrew 
Pelham, his old chum, sitting there with his huge, 
disfiguring glasses and bowed head, was suielj tie 
type of all that was path^ic. He foigot all his small 
irritation at the other's ol^tinacj. He lememberod 
only their long years of comrade^iip and the tiagedj 
which loomed over the life of his diosen friend. Once 
more his arm rested upon his shoulder. 

" I 'm a selfish brute, Andrew I " he said. "Btay as 
long as you please, and get this idea out of your brain. 
I 'm trying to get Miss Fielding and her ^h^ down here, 
and if I can manage it anyhow 1 11 leave you two alone, 
and you shall talk as long as you like. Come, we 11 
have a drink together now and a pipe afterwardsL" 

He walked across to the sidebca: I —here the glasses 
and decanter? — e:e i:: -' 7: tl . : :Le f:-: time 

he saw uj* .n ."it ::: i. :i^ i .rlrgi-L^ He gave 

a little excki ; :: i i-. i^. tore it open. 

Andrew 1: :r 

"What:? re? "he asked. "Atel^iam?" 

Ban: L^ r ^ ~::: i:= ejes g^ued upon the ob- 
1 1^ :::^ : p -: A : : := : ^1' r had <»ept into his 
i- r :: - ^irrit^ ::. ir iril:!; :li. of his complezum. 
Andrew, si^itless ::. -rb. he was, seemed to feel the 
presence in the r l^ : -^ exciting influence. He rose 
to his feet and m : .^ across to the sideboaid. 

''Is it a teleg: 1^ :ige?" he idiispaied hoarsety. 
*• Bead it to me. is ir rrom Speooerl* 


Duncombe collected himself with an effort. 

"It's nothing," he answered with a little laugh, in 
which all the elements of mirth were lacking, " nothing 
at all ! A note from Heggs, my head-keeper — about 
some poachers. Confound the fellow ! " 

Andrew's hand was suddenly upon the sideboard, 
travelling furtively across its shining surface. Dun- 
combe watched it with a curious sense of fascination. 
He felt altogether powerless to interfere. He was simply 
wondering how long it would be before those long, power- 
ful fingers seized upon what they sought. He might 
even then have swept aside the envelope, but he felt 
no inclination to do so. The fingers were moving slowly 
but surely. Finally, with a little grab, they seized upon 
it. Then there was another moment of suspense. 

Slowly the hand was withdrawn. Without a second's 
warning Duncombe felt himself held in the grip of a 
giant. Andrew had him by the throat. 

"You have lied to me, George!" he cried. "There 
was a telegram ! " 



IT seemed to Duncombe that time stood still. An- 
drew's face, wholly disfigured by the hideous dark 
spectacles, unrecognizable, threatening, was within a few 
inches of his own. He felt the other's hot breath upon 
his cheek. For a moment there stole through his numbed 
senses the fear of more terrible things. And then the 
grip which held him relaxed. Andrew stood away 
gasping. The crisis was over. 

" You lied to me, George. Wliy ? " 

Duncombe did not answer. He could not. It was 
as though his body had been emptied of all breath. 

" You meant to keep the contents of that telegram a 
secret from me. Why ? Was I right after all ? Eead 
me that telegram, George. Eead it me truthfully." 

"The telegram is from Spencer," Duncombe said. 
"He is coming here." 

" Here ? Is he giving up the search ? Has he failed, 
then ? " 

" He does not say," Duncombe answered. " He 
says simply that he is coming here. He has wired for 
a motor to meet him at Lynn. He may be here 

A discordant laugh broke from Pelham's lips. 

"What about your Miss Fielding, now?" he ex- 
claimed. "Why do you suppose that he is leaving 


Paris, and coming here? I was right. I knew that 
I was right." 

Buncombe stood up. His expanse of shirt-front was 
crumpled and battered. His white tie was hanging 
down in ribbons. 

"Listen, Andrew!" he exclaimed. "I am speaking 
of the girl by whose side I sat to-night at dinner, who 
calls herself Miss Fielding, who has — in plain words — 
denied that she knows anything of Phyllis Poynton. I 
want you to understand this. Whatever she may choose 
to call herself that shall be her name. I will not have 
her questioned or bullied or watched. If Spencer comes 
here to do either I have finished with him. I elect my- 
self her protector. I will stand between her and all 
suspicion of evil things." 

" She has found a champion indeed ! " Pelham ex- 
claimed fiercely. " With Miss Fielding I have nothing 
to do. Yet you had better understand this. If she be 
Phyllis Poynton she belongs to me, and not to you. 
She was mine before you heard her name. I have 
watched her grow up from a child, I taught her to ride 
and to shoot and to swim. I have watched her listen- 
ing to the wind, bending over the flowers in her garden. 
I have walked with her over the moor when the twi- 
light fell and the mists rose. We have seen the kin- 
dling of the stars, and we have seen the moon grow pale 
and the eastern sky ablaze. I have taught her where to 
look for the beautiful things of life. She has belonged 
to me in all ways, save one. I am a poor, helpless crea- 
ture now, George, but, by the gods, I will let no one rob 
me of my one holy compensation. She is the girl I love ; 
the better part of myself." 

"Phyllis Poynton may be all these things to you," 


Buncombe answered. "I do not know her. I do not 
recognize her. Find her, if you can ; make of her what 
you wilL All that I ask of you is that you divest your 
mind of these senseless suspicions. Seek Phyllis Poyn- 
ton where you will, but leave alone the woman whom I 
love. I will not have her troubled or annoyed by need- 
less importunities. She says she is Miss Fielding. 
Then she is Miss Fielding. It is enough for me. It 
must be enough for you!" 

" And what about Spencer ? " Pelham asked grimly. 

"Spencer in this matter is my servant," Buncombe 
answered. "If his search for Phyllis Poynton entails 
his annoying Miss Fielding, then he is dismissed. I 
will have no more to do with the business." 

"I have heard of this man Spencer," Andrew an- 
swered. " If you think that he is the sort of creature 
whom you can order about like that, I fancy that you 
are mistaken. You may try to call him off, if you like, 
but you won't succeed. He is searching for Phyllis 
Poynton, and he is coming here. I believe that he wiU 
find her." 

The windows were wide open, and both men suddenly 
turned round. There was no mistaking the sound which 
came to them from the road outside — the regular throb 
and beat of a perfectly balanced engine. Then they 
heard a man's voice, cool and precise. 

"Here you are, then, and a sovereign for yourself. 
A capital little car this. Good night!" 

The little iron gate opened and closed. A tall man 
in a loose travelling-coat, and carrying a small bag, 
entered. He saw Bimcombe standing at the open 
window, and waved his hand. As he approached his 
boyish face lit up into a smile. 


" What luck to find you up I " he exclaimed. " You 
got my telegram ? " 

" An hour ago," Buncombe answered. " This is my 
friend, Mr. Andrew Pelham. What will you have ? " 

" Whisky and soda, and a biscuit, please," was the 
prompt reply. " Have n't upset you, I hope, coming 
down from the clouds in this fashion?" 

" Not in the least," Buncombe answered. " You Ve 
made us very curious, though." 

" Bear me ! " Spencer exclaimed, " what a pity ! I came 
here to ask questions, not to answer them. You 've set 
me a regular poser. Buncombe. By Jove ! that 's good 

" Help yourself," Buncombe answered. " We won't 
bother you to-night. I '11 show you a room as soon as 
you 've had a cigarette. Fair crossing ? " 

" No idea," Spencer answered. " I slept all the way. 
Jolly place you 've got here, Buncombe. Nice country, 
too. " 

" There is just one question," Pelham began. 

" Sha'n't answer it — to-night," Spencer interrupted 
firmly. " I 'm dead sleepy, and I could n't guarantee 
to tell the truth. And when to-morrow comes — I '11 
be frank with you — I 've very little to say. Pardon 
me, but where does Mr. Pelham come in in this 
matter ? " 

"Pelham," Buncombe said slowly, "was a neighbor 
of Miss Poynton's, in Bevonshire. It was through him 
that I first went to Paris to search for her." 

Spencer nodded. 

" Glad to meet him, then," he remarked. " There 
are a few questions I shall be glad to ask him in the 


" There is one," Pelham said, " which you must answer 

Spencer raised his eyebrows. He was standing with 
his back to them now, helping himself to sandwiches 
from a dish upon the sideboard. 

" By Jove, your cook does understand these things," 
he remarked, with his mouth full. " No idea I was so 
hungry. What was that, Mr. Pelham ? A question 
which must be answered now ? " 

" Yes. You telegraphed to Buncombe to know the 
names of Lord Runton's guests, and now you have come 
here yourself. Why ? " 

Spencer helped himself to another sandwich. 

" I came here," he said, " because I did n't seem to be 
getting on in Paris. It struck me that the clue to Miss 
Poynton's disappearance might after all be on this side 
of the Channel." 

Pelham guided himself by the table to the sideboard. 
He stood close to Spencer. 

" Mr. Spencer," he said, " I am almost blind, and I 
cannot see your face, but I want you to teU me the 
truth. I expect it from you." 

" My dear fellow," Spencer answered. " I 'm awfully 
soTTy for you, of course, but I really don't see why I 
should answer your questions at all, truthfully or un- 
truthfully. I have been making a few inquiries for my 
friend Buncombe. At present I regret to say that I 
have been unsuccessful. In their present crude state I 
should prefer keeping my discoveries, such as they are, 
to myself." 

Pelham struck the sideboard with his clenched fist so 
that all the glasses rattled upon the tray. His face was 
dark with passion. 


" I will not be ignored in this matter," he declared. 
" Phyllis Poynton and her brother are nothing to Dun- 
combe. He acted only for me. He cannot deny it. Ask 
him for yourself." 

" I do not need to ask him," Spencer answered. " I 
am perfectly well aware of the circumstances of the 
case. All the same, I go about my business my own 
way. I am not ready to answer questions from you or 
anybody else." 

" You shall tell me this at least," Pelham declared. 
"You shall tell me why you telegraphed here for the 
names of Lord Eunton's house party." 

*' Simplest thing in the world," Spencer answered, re- 
linquishing his attack upon the sandwiches, and lighting 
a cigarette. " I did it to oblige a friend who writes 
society notes for the ' New York Herald.' " 

Duncombe gave vent to a little exclamation of tri- 
umph. Pelham for the moment was speechless. 

" Awfully sorry if I misled you in any way," Spencer 
continued. " I never imagined your connecting my re- 
quest with the disappearance of Phyllis Poynton. Why 
should I ? " 

" The fact is," Duncombe interposed, " there is a 
girl staying at Eunton Place whose voice Pelham 
declares is exactly like Phyllis Poynton's, and whose 
general appearance, I will admit, is somewhat similar 
to the photograph I showed you. It is a coincidence, 
of course, but beyond that it is absurd to go. This 
young lady is a Miss Fielding. She is there with her 
father, and they are invited guests, with all the proper 

Spencer nodded. 

" I suppose it is because I am not a lady's man," he 


said carelessly, " but I must admit that all girls' voices 
sound pretty much alike to me." 

" I wish to Heaven that I could see your face ! " Pel- 
ham exclaimed, " I should know then whether you 
were telling me the truth." 

" The weak point about my temporary profession is," 
Spencer remarked thoughtfully, "that it enables even 
strangers to insult one with impunity." 

" If I have misjudged you," Pelham said with some 
dignity, " I am sorry. I am to understand, then, that 
you have no news whatever to give us about the disap- 
pearance of Phyllis Poynton and her brother ? " 

" Not a scrap ! " Spencer answered. 

" I will wish you both good night, then," Pelham said. 
" No, don't trouble, George. I can find my way quite 
well by myself." 

He disappeared, and Buncombe drew a little sigh of 

" Excitable person, your friend ! " Spencer remarked. 

Buncombe nodded. 

" Very ! I am frightened to death that he will make 
an ass of himself before Miss Fielding. If he hears her 
speak he loses his head." 

" Nice girl ? " Spencer asked. 

" Yes — very ! " 

" WTiat sort of a fellow 's the father ?" 

" Very quiet. I 've scarcely spoken to him. They 're 
Americans. Friends of Lord Runton's brother, out in 
New York. Ever heard of them ? " 

" Yes. A few times." 

" You seem interested." 

" I am — very." 

Buncombe turned suddenly white. 


" What do you mean ? " he asked. 

Spencer held his cigarette between his fingers and 
looked at it thoughtfully. 

"Mr. Fielding, of New York," he said, "sailed for 
America from Havre last Saturday. His daughter has 
gone to Eussia with a party of friends." 

Duncombe sprang from his seat. His cigarette 
slipped from his fingers and fell unheeded upon the 

" Then who — who are these people ? " he exclaimed. 

Spencer shrugged his shoulders. 

"I thought it worth while," he said, "to come over 
and find out." 



A FEW minutes before ten the following morning a 
moimted messenger from Eunton Place brought 
the following note for Buncombe : — 

" EuxTON Place, Friday Morniiig. 
■"My dear Buncombe, — Fielding has cried off the 
shoot to-day. Says he has a motor coming over for him 
to try from Norwich, and his dutiful daughter remains 
with him. Thought I would let you know in case you 
cared to come and look them up. Best I could do for 

" Ever yours sincerely, 


Buncombe had breakfasted alone. Pelham had asked 
for something to be sent up for him, and Spencer, after 
a cup of coffee in his room, had gone out. Buncombe 
did not hesitate for a moment. He started at once for 
Eunton Place. 

A marvellous change had taken place in the weather 
since the previous day. The calm splendor of the early 
autumn seemed to have vanished. A strong north wind 
was blowing, and the sky was everywhere gray and 
threatening. The fields of uncut corn were bent like 
the waves of the sea, and the yellow leaves came down 
from the trees in showers. Piled up masses of black 


clouds were driven across the sky. Scanty drops of rain 
kept falling, an earnest of what was to come as soon as 
the wind should fail. Buncombe had almost to fight 
his way along until, through a private gate, he entered 
Kunton Park. The house lay down in the valley about 
a mile away. To reach it one had to cross a ridge of 
hills covered with furze bushes and tumbled fragments 
of ancient rock. 

Half-way up the first ascent he paused. A figure had 
struggled into sight from the opposite side — the figure 
of a girl. Her skirts and cloak were being blown wildly 
about her. She wore a flat Tam-o'-Shanter hat, from 
under the confines of which her hair was defying the 
restraint of hatpins and elastic. She stood there sway- 
ing a little from the violence of the wind, slim and ele- 
gant, notwithstanding a certain intensity of gaze and 
bearing. Buncombe felt his heart give a quick jump as 
he recognized her. Then he started up the hill as fast 
as he could go. 

She stood perfectly still, watching him clamber up 
to her side. Her face showed no sign of pleasure 
or annoyance at his coming. He felt at once that it 
was not he alone who had realized the coming of the 

No words of conventional greeting passed between 
them as he clambered breathless to her side. The wind 
had brought no color into her cheeks. There were 
rims under her eyes. She had the appearance of one 
who had come into touch with fearsome things. 

"What do you want with me?" she asked. "Why 
are you here?" 

" To be with you," he answered. " You know why." 

She laughed mirthlessly. 


" Better go back," she exclaimed. " I am no fit com- 
panion for any one to-day. I came out to be alone." 

A gust of wind came tearing up the hillside. They 
both struggled for breath. 

" I came," he said, " to find you. I was going to the 
house. Something has happened which you ought to 

She looked back towards the long white front of the 
house, and there was terror in her eyes. 

" Something is happening there," she muttered, " and 
I am afraid." 

He took her gloveless hand. It was as cold as ice. 
She did not resist his touch, but her fingers lay passively 
in his. 

" Let me be your friend," he pleaded. " Never mind 
what has happened, or what is going to happen. You 
are in trouble. Let me share it with you." 

" You cannot," she answered. " You, nor any one else 
in the world. Let me go 1 You don't understand ! " 

" I understand more than you think ! " he answered. 

She turned her startled eyes upon him. 

" What do you mean ? " she cried. 

" I mean that the man whom we employed to trace the 
whereabouts of Phyllis Poynton and her brother arrived 
from Paris last night," he answered. " He wanted a list 
of Lord Runton's house party. Can you guess why ? " 

" Go on ! " 

"Mr. Fielding, of New York, left Havre on Satur- 
day " 


Her voice was a staccato note of agony. Between the 
fingers which were pressed to her face he could see the 
slow, painful flushing of her cheeks. 


" Why did you come to tell me this ? " she asked in a 
low tone. 

" You know," he answered. 

" Did you guess last night that we were impostors ? " 
she asked. 

" Certainly not," he answered. " Andrew was tor- 
tured with doubts about you. He believed that you 
were Phyllis Poynton 1 " 

" I am I " she whispered. " I was afraid of him all the 
evening. He must have known." 

It seemed to Duncombe that the rocks and gorse 
bushes were spinning round and the ground was sway- 
ing under his feet. The wind, which had kept them 
both half breathless, seemed full of mocking voices. 
She was an impostor. These were her own words. She 
was in danger of detection, perhaps of other things. At 
that very moment Spencer might have gained an entrance 
into Kunton Place. He felt uncertain of himself, and 
all the time her eyes watched him jealously. 

" Why did you come here ? " she cried. " Why do you 
look at me like that ? It is no concern of yours who I 
am. Why do you interfere ? " 

" Everything that concerns you concerns me," he an- 
swered. " I don't care who you are, or who you say you 
are. I don't even ask you for any sort of explanation. 
I came to warn you about Spencer. For the rest, here 
am I your friend whatever happens. You are terrified ! 
Don't go back to the house. Give me the right to take 
care of you. I '11 do it I " 

Then for the first time a really human expression lit 
up her face. The sick fear passed away. Her features 
were suddenly softer. The light in her eyes was a 
beautiful thing. 


" You are kind," she murmured, " kinder than I ever 
dreamed any one could be who — knew. Will you be 
kinder still ? " 

" Try me ! " he begged. 

" Then go away. Forget who I am. Forget who I 
am not. Shut yourself up in your study for twenty-four 
hours, and come out without any memories at all. Oh, 
do this for me — do this ! " she begged, with a sudden 
break in her voice. 

She leaned a little towards him. A long wisp of her 
hair blew in his face. A moment of madness came to 
him with the gust of wind which blew her almost into 
his arms. For one exquisite moment he held her. The 
violets at her bosom were crushed against his coat. 
Then she tore herself away. 

" You are mad," she cried. " It is my fault. Oh, let 
me go 1 " 

" Never," he answered, passionately clasping at her 
hand. " Call yourself by what name you will, I love 
you. If you are in trouble, let me help. Let me go 
back to the house with you, and we will face it together, 
whatever it may be. Come ! " 

She wrung her hands. The joy had all gone from 
her face. 

" Oh, what have I done ? " she moaned. " Don't you 
understand that I am an impostor? The man down 
there is not my father. I — oh, let me go ! " 

She wrenched herself free. She stood away from 
him, her skirt gathered up into her hand, prepared for 

"If you would really do me a kindness," she cried, 
"get Mr. Spencer to stop his search for me. Tell him 
to forget that such a person ever existed. And you, too ! 


You must do the same. What I have done, I have done 
of my own free will. I am my own mistress. I will 
not be interfered with. Listen ! " 

She turned a white, intent face towards the house. 
Duncombe could hear nothing for the roaring of the 
wind, but the girl's face was once more convulsed with 

" What was that ? " she cried. 

" I heard nothing," he answered. " What can one hear ? 
The wind is strong to drown even our voices." 

" And those ? " she cried again, pointing with out- 
stretched finger to two rapidly moving black specks 
coming towards them along the winding road which 
led from the highway to Eunton Place. 

Duncombe watched them for a moment. 

" They are the Eunton shooting brakes," he declared. 
" I expect Lord Eunton and the rest of them are coming 

" Coming back ! " she repeated, with a little gasp. 
" But they were going to shoot all day and dine there. 
They are not expected home till past midnight." 

" I expect the shoot is off," Duncombe remarked. 
" One could n't possibly hit anything a day like this. 
I wonder they ever started." 

Her face was white enough before, but it was deathly 
now. Her lips parted, but only a little moan came from 
them. He heard the rush of her skirts, and saw her 
spring forward. He was left alone upon the hilltop. 



RUNTON was apparently enjoying the relaxation 
of having got rid of practically the whole of its 
guests for the day. The women servants were going 
about their duties faithfully enough, but with a marked 
absence of any superfluous energy. Mr. Harrison, the 
butler, was enjoying a quiet pipe in his room and a 
leisurely perusal of the morning paper. Mrs. Ellis, the 
much-respected housekeeper, was also in her room com- 
fortably ensconced in an easy-chair, and studying a new 
volume of collected menus which a friend had sent 
her from Paris. The servants were not exactly neglect- 
ing their work, but every one was appreciating a certain 
sense of peace which the emptying of the house from 
a crowd of more or less exacting guests had brought 

In one room only things were different, and neither 
Mrs. Ellis nor Mr. Harrison, nor any of the household, 
knew anything about that. It was the principal guest- 
chamber on the first floor — a large and handsomely 
furnished apartment. Barely an hour ago it had been 
left in spotless order by a couple of painstaking servants. 
Just now it had another aspect. 

In the middle of the room a man lay stretched upon 
the floor, face downwards. The blood was slowly 


trickling from a wound in the side of the head down on 
to the carpet. With nearly every breath he drew he 
groaned. Overturned chairs and tables showed that 
he had taken part in no ordinary struggle. The condi- 
tion of the other man also testified this. 

The other man was Mr. Fielding. He was down on 
his knees upon the floor, rapidly going through the con- 
tents of a dark mahogany box, which was apparently 
full of papers. Scattered over the carpet by his side 
were various strange-looking tools, by means of which 
he had forced the lock. Mr. Fielding was not at all 
his usual self. His face was absolutely colorless, and 
every few moments his hand went up to his shoulder- 
blade and a shiver went through his whole frame. 
There was a faint odor of gunpowder in the room, and 
somewhere near the feet of the prostrate man lay a 
small shining revolver. Nevertheless, Mr. Fielding 
persevered in his task. 

Suddenly there came an interruption. Footsteps out- 
side in the corridor had paused. There was a sharp 
tapping at the door. The prostrate man groaned louder 
than ever, and half turned over, proving that he was not 
wholly unconscious. Mr. Fielding closed the box and 
staggered to his feet. 

He stood for a moment staring wildly at the door. 
Who could it be? He had asked, as a special favor, 
that he might not be disturbed, and Mr. Fielding knew 
how to ask favors of servants. Interruption now 
meant disaster, absolute and unqualified — the end, 
perhaps, of a career in which he had achieved some 
success. Big drops of perspiration stood out upon his 
forehead, drawn there by the pain and this new fear. 
Slowly, and on tiptoe, he drew near the door. 


" Who is that ? " he asked with wonderful calmness. 

" It is I ! Let me in," came the swift answer, and 
Mr. Fielding drew a little breath of relief. Neverthe- 
less he was angry. He opened the door and drew the 
girl in. 

" You fool ! " he exclaimed. " I sent you out of the 
way on purpose. Why have you come back ? " 

She opened her lips, but no words came. The man 
on the floor groaned again. She swayed upon her feet. 
It was all so horrible. 

" Speak, can't you 1 " he muttered between his teeth. 
" Things have gone badly here. I 'm wounded, and I 'm 
afraid — I 've hurt that chap — pretty badly." 

"I was in the park,'' she faltered, "and saw them. 
They are all coming back." 

" Coming back ? " 

" They are almost here. Sir George Buncombe told 
me that they could not shoot because of the wind." 

" The car ? " 

" Downstairs — waiting." 

He had forgotten his hurt. He caught up his hat and 
a coat, and pushed her out of the room. He locked the 
door, and thrust the key into his pocket. As they 
walked down the corridor he lit a cigarette. 

A footman met them in the hall. 

" A gentleman has called to see you, sir — a Mr. 
Spencer," he announced. " I have shown him into the 

Mr. Fielding appeared to hesitate for a moment. 

" It is the man who wants to sell us the car," he ex- 
claimed, turning towards the girl, " but I have n't even 
seen it yet. Better tell him to wait for a quarter of an 
hour," he added, turning towards the footman. " I '11 



just drive down to the lodge gates and back. Come 
along, Sybn." 

She followed him to the front door. A man was 
seated at the wheel of the motor car, and tm-ned his 
head quickly as they approached. Mr. Fielding nodded 
pleasantly, though his face was white with excruciating 

" Kept you waiting, I 'm afraid," he said. " Can you 
drive at all in a wind like this ? " 

" Jump in, sir, and see," the man answered. " Is the 
young lady coming ? " 

Mr. Fielding nodded, and stepped into the front seat. 
The girl was already in the tonneau. The man slipped 
in his clutch, and they glided round the broad, circular 
sweep in front of the entrance. Just as they started the 
wagonette drew up. 

" We sha'n't be more than a few minutes," Mr. Field- 
ing cried out, waving his hand. " Sorry you 've lost your 
day's sport." 

" Hold on a minute, and I '11 come with you," Eunton 
called out. " That car looks like going." 

But Mr. Fielding did not hear. 

Buncombe, who had returned from the park by the 
fields, was crossing the road to enter his own gates, 
when a black speck far away on the top of the hill 
attracted his attention. He stood still gazing at it, and 
was instantly aware that it was approaching him at an 
almost incredible speed. It gathered shape swiftly, and 
he watched it with a fascination which kept him rooted 
to the spot. Above the wind he could hear the throb- 
bing of its engines. He saw it round a slight curve in 
the road, with two wheels in the air, and a skid which 


seemed for a moment as though it must mean destnic- 
tion. Mud and small stones flew up around it. The 
driver was crouching forward over the wheel, tense and 
motionless. Duncombe moved to the side of the road to 
let it pass, with a little exclamation of anger. 

Then it came more clearly into sight, and he forgot 
his anger in his amazement. The seat next the driver 
was occupied by a man leaning far back, whose face was 
like the face of the dead. Behind was a solitary pas- 
senger. She was leaning over, as though trying to speak 
to her companion. Her hair streamed wild in the wind, 
and on her face was a look of blank and fearful terror. 
Duncombe half moved forward. She saw him, and 
touched the driver's arm. His hand seemed to fly to the 
side of the car, and his right foot was jammed down. 
"With grinding of brakes and the screaming of locked 
wheels, the car was brought to a standstill within a few 
feet of him. He sprang eagerly forward. She was 
already upon her feet in the road. 

" Sir George," she said, " your warning, as you see, was 
barely in time. We are adventurer and adventm^ess — 
detected. I suppose you are a magistrate. Don't you 
think that you ought to detain us ? " 

" A\Tiat can I do to help you ? " he asked simply. 

She looked at him eagerly. There were mud spots 
all up her gown, even upon her face. Her hair was 
wildly disordered. She carried her hat in her hand. 

" You mean it ?" she cried. 

" You know that I do!" 

She turned and looked up the road along which they 
had come. There was no soul in sight. She looked 
even up at the long line of windows which frowned 
down upon them from the back of the HalL They, 


too, were empty. She thrust a long envelope suddenly 
into his hand. 

" Guard this for me," she whispered. " Don't let any 
one know that you have it. Don't speak of it to any 
one. Keep it until I can send for it." 

He thrust it into his inner pocket and buttoned his 

" It is quite safe," he said simply. 

Her eyes flashed her gratitude upon him. For the 
first time he saw something in her face — heard it in 
her tone, which made his heart beat. After all she was 

" You are very good to me," she murmured. " Be- 
lieve me, I am not quite as bad as I seem. Good-bye." 

He turned with her towards the car, and she gave a 
low cry. He too started. The car was a mile away, 
tearing up a hill, and almost out of sight. In the lane 
behind they could hear the sound of galloping horses. 
He caught her by the wrist, dragged her through the 
gate, and behiud a great shrub on the lawn. 

" Stay there ! " he exclaimed hoarsely. " Don't move. 
I will come back." 

Half a dozen horsemen were coming along the lane 
at steeplechase pace. Lord Kunton, on his wonderful 
black horse, which no man before had ever seen him 
gallop save across the softest of country, pulled up out- 
side the gate. 

" Seen a motor go by, Duncombe ? " he called out. 

Duncombe nodded. 

"Rather!" he answered. "Fielding and Miss Field- 
ing in it. Going like Hell ! " 

Runton waved his companions on, and leaned down 
to Duncombe. 


"Beastly unpleasant thing happened, Buncombe," 
he said. " Fielding and his daughter have bolted. 
Fieldmg seems to have half killed a messenger who 
came down from London to see Von Rothe, and stolen 
some papers. Fact of the matter is he's not Fielding 
at all — and as for the girl ! Lord knows who she is. 
Sorry for you. Buncombe. Hope you weren't very 
hard hit!" 

He gathered up his reins. 

" We Ve sent telegrams everywhere," he said, " but 
the beast has cut the telephone, and Yon Rothe blas- 
phemes if we talk about the police. It's a queer 

He rode off. Buncombe returned where the girl was 
standing. She was clutching at the branches of the 
shrub as though prostrate with fear, but at his return 
she straightened herself. How much had she heard he 

" Bon't move ! " he said. 

She nodded. 

" Can any one see me ? " she asked. 

" Not from the road." 

" From the house ? " 

"They could," he admitted, "but it is the servants* 
dinner hour. Bon't you notice how quiet the house is ?" 

" Yes." 

She was very white. She seemed to find some diffi- 
culty in speaking. There was fear in her eyes. 

" It would not be safe for you to leave here at 
present," he said. " I am going to take you into a little 
room leading out of my study. No one ever goes in it. 
You will be safe there for a time." 

" If I could sit down — for a little while." 


He took her arm, and led her unresistingly towards 
the house. The library window was closed, but he 
opened it easily, and helped her through. At the 
further end of the room was an inner door, which he 
threw open. 

"This is a room which no one except myself ever 
enters," he said. "I used to do a little painting here 
sometimes. Sit down, please, in that easy-chair. I am 
going to get you a glass of wine." 

They heard the library door suddenly opened. A 
voice, shaking with passion, called out his name. 

" Buncombe, are you here ? Duncombe 1 " 

There was a dead silence. They could hear him 
moving about the room. 

" Hiding, are you ? Brute ! Come out, or 1 11 — by 
heavens, I '11 shoot you if you don't tell me the truth. 
I heard her voice in the lane. 1 '11 swear to it." 

Duncombe glanced quickly towards his companion. 
She lay back in the chair in a dead faint. 



THE three men were sitting at a small round dining- 
table, from which everything except the dessert 
had been removed. Duncombe filled his own glass 
and passed around a decanter of port. Pelham and 
Spencer both helped themselves almost mechanically. 
A cloud of restraint had hung over the little part}^ 
Duncombe raised his glass and half emptied its con- 
tents. Then he set it down and leaned back in his 

"Well," he said, "I am ready for the inquisition. 
Go on, Andrew." 

Pelham fingered his own glass nervously. He seemed 
to find his task no easy one. 

" George," he said, " we are old friends. I want you 
to remember it. I want you also to remember that I 
am in a hideous state of worry and nerves " — he passed 
his hand over his forehead just above his eyes as though 
they were hurting him. " I am not behaving to you as 
a guest should to his host. I admit it freely. I have 
lost my temper more than once during the last twenty- 
four hours. I am sorry ! Forgive me if you can, 
George ! " 

" Willingly, Andrew," Duncombe answered. " I shall 
think no more about it." 


" At the same time," Pelliam continued, " there is 
another point to be considered. Have you been quite 
fair to me, George ? Remember that Phyllis Poynton 
is the one person whose existence reconciles me to life. 
You had never even heard her name before I sent for 
you. You went abroad, like the good fellow you are, 
to find her for me. You assure me that you have dis- 
covered — nothing. Let me put you upon your honor, 
George. Is this absolutely true ? " 

" I have discovered nothing about Phyllis Poynton," 
Buncombe declared quietly. 

" About Miss Fielding then ? " 

" Phyllis Poynton and Miss Fielding are two very 
different persons," Buncombe declared. 

" That may be so," Pelham said, " although I find it 
hard to believe that God ever gave to two women voices 
so exactly similar. Yet if you are assured that this is 
so, why not be altogether frank with me ? " 

" What have you to complain of ? " Buncombe 

" Something has happened at Runton Place, in which 
Mr. Fielding and his daughter are concerned," Pelham 
continued. " I have heard all manner of strange rumors. 
This afternoon I distinctly heard the girl's voice in the 
lane outside. She was crying out as though in fear. A 
few minutes later I heard you speaking to some one in 
the library. Yet when I entered the room you would 
not answer me." 

"Supposing I grant everything that you say, An- 
drew," Buncombe answered. " Supposing I admit that 
strange things have happened with regard to Mr. Field- 
ing and his daughter which have resulted in their 
leaving Runton Place — even that she was there in 


the lane this afternoon — how does all this concern 
you ? " 

" Because," Pelham declared, striking the table with 
his fist, " I am not satisfied that the girl who has been 
staying at Runton Place, and calling herself Miss 
Fielding, is not in reality Phyllis Poynton." 

Buncombe lit a cigarette, and passed the box round. 

"Do you know what they are saying to-night of Mr. 
Fielding and his daughter ? " he asked quietly. 


" That the one is a robber, and the other an adven- 
turess," Buncombe answered. " This much is certainly 
true. They have both left Runton Place at a moment's 
notice, and without taking leave of their host and 
hostess. Remember, I never knew Phyllis Poynton. 
You did! Ask yourself whether she is the sort of 
young person to obtain hospitality under false pretences, 
and then abuse it — to associate herself in a fraud with a 
self-confessed robber." 

" The idea," Pelham said quietly, " is absurd." 

"While we are on the subject," Spencer remarked, 
drawing the cigarettes towards him, " may I ask you a 
few questions, Mr. Pelham ? For instance, had Miss 
Poynton any relations in France?" 

" Not to my knowledge," Pelham answered. " I have 
known both her and her brother for a great many years, 
and I never heard either of them mention any." 

" Why did she go to Paris, then ? " 

" To meet her brother." 

" And why did he go abroad ? " 

" It was a whim, I think. Just a desire to see a few 
foreign countries before he settled down to live the life 
of a countr}^ gentleman." 


" You believe that he had no other reason ? " 

" I think I may go so far as to say that I am sure of 
it," Pelham answered. 

" One more question," Spencer added, inten^ening. 

But the question remained unasked. The butler had 
opened the dining-room door and was announcing Lord 

Buncombe rose to his feet in surprise. For the 
moment a sudden fear drew the color from his 

He looked apprehensively towards his unexpected 
visitor. Lord Eunton, however, showed no signs of any 
great discomposure. He was wearing his ordinary din- 
ner clothes, and in reply to Buncombe's first question 
assured him that he had dined. 

" I will try a glass of your port, if I may, George," he 
declared. " Thanks ! " 

The butler had wheeled a chair up to the table for 
him, and left the room. Lord Eunton filled his glass 
and sent the decanter round. Then he turned towards 
Spencer, to whom he had just been introduced. 

" Mr. Spencer," he said, " my visit to-night is mainly 
to you. I dare say you are aware that a somewhat un- 
pleasant thing has happened at my house. My people 
tell me that you called there this morning and inquired 
for Mr. Fielding." 

Spencer nodded. 

"Quite true," he answered. "I called, but did not 
see him. He appears to have left somewhat hurriedly 
while I was waiting." 

" You did not even catch a glimpse of him ? " 


" You know Mr. Fielding by sight, I presume ? " 


" I have seen him in Paris once or twice," Spencer 

" You will not think me impertinent for asking you 
these questions, I am sure," Lord Runton continued 
apologetically, " but could you describe Mr. Fielding to 

"Certainly," Spencer answered. "He was tall and 
thin, wears glasses, was clean-shaven, bald, and limped a 

Lord Runton nodded. 

" Thank you," he said. " I presume that your visit 
this morning was one of coiu-tesy. You are acquainted 
with Mr. Fielding ? " 

" I have not that pleasure," Spencer answered. " I am 
afraid I must confess that my visit was purely one of 

" Curiosity ! " Lord Runton repeated. 

"Exactly. Do you mind passing those excellent 
cigarettes of yours. Buncombe ? " 

Lord Runton hesitated for a moment. He was con- 
scious of a certain restraint in Spencer's answers. 
Suddenly he turned towards him. 

" Mr. Spencer," he said, " may I ask if you are Mr. 
Jarvis Spencer, of the 'Daily Messenger' — the Mr. 
Spencer who was mentioned in connection with the 
investigations into the Lawson estates ? " 

Spencer nodded. 

" Yes," he said, " I am that person." 

" Then," Lord Runton continued, " I want to tell you 
exactly what has happened to-day in my house, and to 
ask yom- advice. May I ? " 

" If our host has no objection," Spencer answered, 
glancing towards Pelham. 


" None whatever," Duncombe answered, also glancing 
towards Pelham. 

There was a moment's silence. Pelham raised his 

" If Lord Eunton desires it, I will withdraw," he said 
slowly. "At the same time I must confess that I, too, 
am interested in this matter. If Lord Eunton has no 
objection to my presence I should like to remain. My 
discretion goes without saying." 

Duncombe moved uneasily in his chair. His eyes 
sought Spencer's for guidance, but found his head 
averted. Lord Eunton raised his eyebrows slightly 
at what he considered a somewhat vulgar curiosity, 
but his reply was prompt. 

"You are a friend of Buncombe's, Mr. Pelham," he 
said, " and that is enough. I have to ask not only you, 
but all three of you, to consider what I am going to tell 
you as absolutely confidential." 

They all signified their assent. Lord Eunton con- 
tinued : — 

" Mr. and Miss Fielding came to me with letters from 
my brother, and with many convincing proofs of their 
identity. We none of us had the slightest suspicion 
concerning them. Their behavior was exactly what it 
should have been. Nothing about them excited remark 
in any way, except the unusual number of telegrams and 
telephone messages which Mr. Fielding was always re- 
ceiving. That, however, was quite in accord with our 
ideas of an American business man, and did n't seem to 
us in the least remarkable." 

"The telegrams were delivered through a neighbor- 
ing office ? " Spencer asked quietly. 

" Yes," Lord Eunton answered, " but they were all in 


code. I happen to know that because the postmaster 
brought the first one up himself, and explained that he 
was afraid that he must have made some mistake as the 
message was incomprehensible. Fielding only laughed, 
and gave the man a sovereign. The message was abso- 
lutely correct, he declared. He told me afterwards that 
whenever he was speculating he always coded his mes- 
sages, and it seemed perfectly reasonable." 

Spencer nodded. 

" Just so ! " he murmured. 

" This morning," Lord Runton continued, " Mr. Field- 
ing rather upset our plans. We were all to have spent 
the day at the Duke's, and dined there. There was a 
big shoot for the men, as you know. At breakfast-time, 
however, Mr. Fielding announced that he had a man 
coming over with a motor car from Norwich for them to 
try, and begged to be excused. So we had to go without 

" Von Rothe was staying with me, as you know, and 
just before we started he had a telegram that a mes- 
senger from the Embassy was on his way down. He 
hesitated for some time as to whether he ought not to 
stay at home so as to be here when he arrived, but we 
persuaded him to come with us, and promised to send 
him back after luncheon. When we got to Chestow, 
however, the wind had become a gale, and it was impos- 
sible to shoot decently. Yon Rothe was a little uneasy 
all the time, I could see, so he and I and a few of the 
others returned here, and the rest went up to Chestow. 
Just as we arrived Fielding passed us in a great motor 
car with his daughter behind. When we got to the 
house Von Rothe inquired for the messenger. He was 
told that he was in Mr. Fielding's sitting-room, but when 


we got there we found the door locked, and through the 
key-hole we could hear a man groaning. We broke the 
door in and found Von Rothe's messenger half uncon- 
scious, and a rifled despatch box upon the floor. He has 
given us no coherent account of what has happened yet, 
but it is quite certain that he was attacked and robbed 
by Mr. Fielding." 

" What was stolen ? " Spencer asked. " Money ? " 

" No, a letter," Lord Run'ton answered. " Von Eothe 
says very little, but I never saw a man so broken up. 
He has left for London to-night." 

" The matter is in the hands of the police, of course ? " 
Spencer asked. 

Lord Eunton shook his head. 

" Von Eothe took me into his room and locked the 
door a few minutes after we had discovered what had 
happened. He implored me to keep the whole affair 
from the Press and from publicity in any form. His 
whole career was at stake, he said, and very much 
more than his career. All that we could do was to 
follow Mr. Fielding and drag him back by force if we 
could. Even then he had little hope of recovering the 
letter. We did our best, but, of course, we had no 
chance. Mr. Fielding and his daughter simply drove 
off. Von Eothe is dealing with the affair in his own 

"It is a most extraordinary story," Spencer said 

Lord Eunton turned towards him. 

"I have treated you with confidence, Mr. Spencer," 
he said. " Will you tell me now why you called at my 
house to see Mr. Fielding to-day ? " 

Spencer hesitated, but only for a moment. 


" Certainly," he said. " I came because I knew that 
Mr. Fielding was half-way to America, and his daughter 
in Kussia. Some friends of mine were curious to know 
who your guests could be." 

Pelham raised his head. 

" You lied to me tlien ! " he exclaimed. 

"I had as much right to lie to you," Spencer an- 
swered calmly, "as you had to ask me questions. I 
had " 

He stopped short in the middle of his sentence. The 
faces of the three men were a study in varying expres- 
sions. From some other part of the house there came 
to them the sound of a woman's sudden cry of terror — 
the cry of a woman who had awakened suddenly to look 
into the face of death. Buncombe's uplifted glass fell 
with a crash upon the table. The red wine trickled 
across the table-cloth. 



DUNCOMBE was out of the room in a very few 
seconds. The others hesitated for a moment 
whether to follow him or not. Spencer was the first to 
rise to his feet and moved towards the door. Lord 
Eunton and Pelham followed a moment or two later. 
Outside in the hall the house was perfectly silent. 

Buncombe reached the library door just in time to 
find himself confronted by half a dozen of the men 
and women servants coming from the back of the 
house. With his hand upon the door-knob he waved 
them back. 

"Be so good, Mrs. Harrison," he said to the house- 
keeper, " as to keep better order in the servants' hall. 
We CQuld hear some girls calling or laughing in the 

"Indeed, sir," Mrs. Harrison answered with some 
dignity, " the noise, whatever it was, did not come from 
the servants' quarters. We fancied that it came from 
your library." 

" Quite impossible," Duncombe answered coolly. " If 
I require any one I will ring." 

He passed through the door and locked it on the 
inside. In half a dozen hasty strides he^ was across 
the room and inside the smaller apartment where he 
had left the girl. With a little gasp of relief he realized 
that she was there stilL She was pale, and a spot of 


color was blazing in her cheeks. Her hair and dress 
were a Httle disordered. With trembling fingers she 
was fastening a little brooch into her blouse as he 
entered. A rush of night air struck him from a wide- 
open window. 

" What has happened ? " he called out. 

"I have been terrified," she answered. "I am 
sorry I called out. I could not help it. A man came 
here — through the window. He talked so fast that I 
could scarcely hear what he said, but he wanted that 
paper. I tried to make him understand that I had 
not got it, but he did not believe me — and he was 

Buncombe shut down the window, swearing softly 
to himself. 

" I cannot stay with you," he said, " just now. The 
whole house is alarmed at your cry. Listen ! " 

There was a loud knocking at the library door. 
Duncombe turned hastily away. 

" I must let them in," he said. " I will come back 
to you." 

She pointed to the window. 

"He is coming back," she said, "at twelve 

"Do you wish me to give up the paper?" he 

" No." 

" Very well. I will be with you when he comes — 
before then. I must get rid of these men first." 

He closed the door softly, and drew the curtain which 
concealed it. Then he opened the library window, and 
a moment afterwards the door. 

"Come in, you fellows," he said. "I scarcely 



know what I was doing when I locked the door. 1 
fancy one of the housemaids has been seeing ghosts 
in the garden. I saw something white in amongst the 
shrubs, but I could find nothing. Come on out with 

Spencer followed with a perfectly grave face. Lord 
Eunton looked puzzled. Pelham did not attempt to 
leave the library. Spencer drew his host a little on 
one side. 

" What a rotten liar you are, George ! " he said. " I 
don't think that even Eunton was taken in." 

"I suppose it sounded a little thin," Buncombe 
answered coolly. "Put it this way, then, so far as 
you are concerned. The shriek occurred in my house. 
I've no explanation to offer to anybody." 

" I like the sound of that better, Buncombe," he re- 
marked. " Hullo ! What 's the matter with Eunton ? " 

Lord Eunton was calling to them. 

" You 've had a visitor who was in a hurry, old chap ! " 
he remarked. " Send for a lantern." 

Buncombe concealed his annoyance. 

"I don't want to alarm the whole household," he 
said. " I Ve a little electric torch in my study. I '11 
fetch that." 

He brought it out. The progress of a man from the 
road to the small window, towards which Buncombe 
glanced every now and then apprehensively, was marked 
by much destruction. The intruder had effected his 
exit either in great haste or in a singularly unfortunate 
manner. He had apparently missed the gate, which at 
this point was only a small hand one, and in clambering 
over the fence he had broken the topmost strand of 
wire. He had blundered into a bed of wallflowers, 


which were all crushed and downtrodden, and snapped 
off a rose tree in the middle. Below the window were 
distinct traces of footmarks. Lord Runton, who held 
the torch, was becoming excited. 

"Buncombe," he said, "there is something which I 
have not told you yet. I have had numerous reports 
in about the car, and was able to trace it as far as Lynn, 
but they all agreed in saying that it contained only two 
persons — the driver and the man who called himself 
Fielding. What became of the girl?" 

" I have no idea," Buncombe answered steadily. 

" Of course not," Lord Runton continued, " but don't 
you think it possible that — without your knowledge, of 
course — she may be hidden somewhere about here? 
That cry was not like the cry of a housemaid. Let us 
have the whole place searched." 

Buncombe shrugged his shoulders. 

"As you will," he answered. "I am certain, how- 
ever, that it will be useless. There is no place here 
where any one could hide." 

"Your servants may know something,"^ Runton 

"I have already questioned them," Buncombe 

" Come along, Mr. Spencer," Lord Runton exclaimed, 
" let us search the grounds." 

Spencer shook his head. 

" Waste of time, Lord Runton," he answered. 
" If you really want to discover the whereabouts of 
this missing young lady, and she should by any chance 
be close at hand, I should recommend you to induce 
Sir George to let you search the room to which those 
footsteps lead." 


" The library," Duncombe interrupted quickly. 
" Search it by aU means, if you like. I have done so 
myself already." 

Spencer was facing the house. 

" The library ! " he remarked reflectively. " Ah I '* 

He stooped down to light a cigarette. Suddenly he 
felt Buncombe's hot breath upon his cheek. In the 
momentary glow of the match he caught a silhouette of 
a pale, angry face, whose eyes were flashing upon him. 

" This is n't your affair, Spencer. Shut up 1 " 

Spencer blew out the match deliberately. They both 
followed Lord Eunton to the library. Pelham was 
standing in the middle of the room. He had the 
appearance of a man listening intently. 

" George," he asked sharply, " what is on the north 
side of this room?" 

" The wall ! " Duncombe answered. 

« And beyond ? " 

" A passage and the billiard-room." 

Pelham seemed dissatisfied. 

" I fancied," he muttered — " but I suppose it must 
have been fancy. Do the women servants use that 
passage ? " 

" Of course ! Upon my word," Duncombe added, with 
a nervous little laugh, " you all seem to be trying to 
make my house into a Maskelyne and Cooke's home of 
mystery. Let us go into the dining-room and have a 
whisky and soda." 

" Not for me, thanks," Lord Eunton declared. " I 
must go back. The real object of my coming here, 
Duncombe, was to see if the Mr. Spencer who called at 
Eunton Place to-day was really Mr. Jarvis Spencer, 
and if so to ask him whether he would help me." 


"To what extent, Lord Eunton?" Spencer asked 

" To the extent of recovering, or attempting to recover, 
the papers which were stolen from the Baron Von Rothe," 
Lord Runton said. "The Baron was a guest in my 
house, and I feel the occurrence very much. He will 
not let me even mention the matter to the police, but 
I feel sure that he could not object to Mr. Spencer's 
taking the matter in hand." 

" I think you will find," Spencer said, " that Yon 
Rothe has already placed the matter in the hands of 
his own people. The German secret service is pretty 
active over here, you know. I have come in contact 
with it once or twice." 

" Nevertheless, for my own satisfaction," Lord Runton 
continued, " I should like the matter inquired into by 
you, Mr. Spencer." 

" I am not quite sure whether I am free to help you 
or not," Spencer said slowly. "May I come and see 
you to-morrow morning ? " 

" If you prefer it," Lord Runton said doubtfully. 
" Come as early as possible. Good night, Buncombe 1 I 
should like to know who your nocturnal visitor was." 

" If he comes again," Buncombe said, "I may be able 
to tell you." 

He walked to his desk, and taking out a revolver, 
slipped it into his pocket. Then he rang the beU for 
Lord Runton's carriage. It seemed to Buncombe that 
there was a shade of coolness in his visitor's manner 
as he took his leave. He drew Spencer a little on one 

" I want you to promise to come and see me in any 
case to-morrow morning," he said. " There is something 


which I should prefer saying to you in my own house 
to saying here." 

Spencer nodded. 

" Very well," he said, " I will come. I can promise 
that much at least." 

Lord Eunton departed. Pelham went off to hed. 
Spencer and his host were left alone in the library. 

" Billiards, or a whisky and soda in the smoke- 
room ? " the latter asked. " I know that you are not a 
late bird." 

" Neither, thanks. Just a word with you here," 
Spencer answered. 

Duncombe paused on his way to the door. Spencer 
was standing in a reflective attitude, with his hands 
behind his back, gently balancing himself upon his toes. 

" I am very much disposed," he said, " to accept Lord 
Eunton' s offer. Have you any objection ? " 

" Of course I have," Duncombe answered. " You are 
working for me." 

"Was working for you," Spencer corrected gently. 
« That is all over, is n't it ? " 

" What do you mean ? " Duncombe exclaimed. 

Spencer stood squarely upon his feet. He looked a 
little tired. 

" My engagement from you was to find Miss Phyllis 
Poynton," he said softly. "You and I are perfectly 
well aware that the yoimg lady in question is — well, a 
few yards behind that curtain," he said, motioning with 
his head towards it. " My task is accomplished, and I 
consider myself a free man." 

Duncombe was silent for a moment. He walked rest- 
lessly to the window and back again. 

" How did you find out that she was here ? " he asked. 


Spencer looked a little disgusted. 

" My dear fellow," he said, " any one with the brains 
of a mouse must have discovered that. Why, Lord 
Runton, without any of the intimations which I have 
received, is a little suspicious. That is merely a matter 
of ABC. There were difficulties, I admit, and I am 
sorry to say that I have never solved them. I cannot 
tell you at this moment how it comes about that a 
young lady, brought up in the country here, and from 
all I can learn an ordinary, unambitious, virtuous sort 
of young person, should disappear from England in 
search of a missing brother, and return in a few months 
the companion of one of the most dangerous and bril- 
liant members of the French secret service. This sort 
of thing is clean beyond me, I admit. I will be frank 
with you. Buncombe. I have met with difficulties in 
this case which I have never met with before — peculiar 

" Go on! " Buncombe exclaimed eagerly. 

"I have many sources of information in Paris," 
Spencer continued slowly. " I have acquaintances 
amongst waiters, cabmen, caf^-proprietors, detectives, 
and many such people. I have always found them 
most useful. I went amongst them, making careful 
inquiries about Phyllis Poynton and her brother. They 
were like men struck dumb. Their mouths were 
closed like rat-traps. The mention of either the boy 
or the girl seemed to change them as though like magic 
from pleasant, talkative men and women, very eager to 
make the best of their little bit of information, into 
surly idiots, incapable of understanding or answering 
the slightest question. It was the most extraordinary 
experience I have ever come across." 


Duncombe was breathlessly interested. 

" What do you gather from it ? " he asked eagerly. 

"I can only surmise," Spencer said slowly, "I can 
only surmise the existence of some power, some force 
or combination of forces behind all this, of the nature 
of which I am entirely ignorant. I am bound to 
admit that there is a certain amount of fascination to 
me in the contemplation of any such thing. The murder 
of that poor girl, for instance, who was proposing to give 
you information, interests me exceedingly." 

Duncombe shuddered at the recollection. The whole 
scene was before him once more, the whole series of 
events which had made his stay in Paris so eventful. 
He laid his hand upon Spencer's arm. 

" Spencer," he said, " you speak as though your task 
were accomplished. It is n't. Phyllis Poynton may 
indeed be where you say, but if so it is Phyllis Poynton 
with the halter about her neck, with the fear of terrible 
things in her heart. It is not you nor I who is the 
jailer of her captivity. It is some power which has 
yet to be discovered. Our task is not finished yet. 
To-night I will try to question her about this network 
of intrigue into which she seems to have been drawn. 
If she will see you, you too shall ask her about it. 
Don't think of deserting us yet." 

"My dear Duncombe," Spencer said, "I may as well 
confess at once that the sole interest I felt in Lord Eun- 
ton's offer was that it is closely connected with the 
matter we have been discussing." 

"You shall have my entire confidence, Spencer," 
Duncombe declared. "The man who called himself 
Fielding was badly wounded, and he passed here 
almost unconscious. He entrusted the paper or let- 


ter, or whatever it was, he stole from Von Eothe's mes- 
senger, to his so-called daughter, and she in her turn 
passed it on to me. It is at this moment in my 

Spencer looked very serious. 

" My dear feUow," he said, " I congratulate you upon 
your pluck, but not upon your discretion. You are 
interfering in what may turn out to be a very great 
matter — a matter in which a few lives are like the 
pawns which are swept from the chess-board. Does 
any one know this ? " 

" She and I only ! You heard her shriek ? " 


" A man threw up her window and climbed in. He 
demanded the packet. He searched the room. When 
he left her he declared that he should return at twelve 
to-night, and if she did not hand it to him then he 
threatened her." 

Spencer smiled, and rubbed his hands softly together. 

" Eeally," he murmured, " this is most interesting. 
I am with you. Buncombe. With you altogether ! 
There is only one more question." 


"You did not know Phyllis Poynton. You took up 
this search for her out of your friendship for Pelham. 
You are a rich man, young, strong, with every capacity 
for enjoyment. What induces you to risk your life 
in an adventure of this sort ? You see, I don't mince 

Then Buncombe became grave. His face fell into 
firm, hard lines. Yet as he spoke there was something 
boyish about his expression. 

" It is a fair question," he answered. " You won't 


understand me. I don't understand myself. I 've a 
brilliant galaxy of fools behind me. They 've made 
the pages of history interesting. They've been the 
butt always of wiser men such as you, Spencer. The 
girl in that room may be Phyllis Poynton or the worst 
adventuress who ever lied her way through the mazes 
of intrigue, but I love her 1 She 's in my life — a part 
of it. If I lose her — well, you know what life is 
like when the flame has gone and only the embers 

Spencer nodded very softly. 

" That is sufficient ! " he said. " You speak of things 
that I myself do not understand. But that is nothing. 
I know that they exist. But " 


" But what about Pelham ? " 

"Pelham has no prior claim," he answered. "As 
soon as she is safe he shall know the whole truth. I 
would tell him at this moment but that I am a little 
afraid of him. He would never understand, as we can, 
the intricacy of the situation. And now — to the 

He rang the bell. 

" Groves," he told the butler, " I am hungry. Bring 
me in anything you can rake up for supper on a tray, 
and a pint of champagne." 

Spencer raised his eyebrows and smiled. Buncombe 

" For her, of course," he said. " I am going to take 
it in, and I want you to stay here. It is past eleven 
o'clock already." 



" T WAS never," she declared, " quite so pleased to 

X see any one in all my life. I was wondering 
whether it would occur to you that I was starving." 

He set the tray down for her, placed a chair in front 
of the table, and busied himself opening the wine. 
All the time he was looking at her. 

" A\Tiatever have you been doing to yourself ? " he 
asked at length. 

She laughed softly. 

" Oh, I had to amuse myself somehow," she answered. 
" I 've done my hair a new way, rearranged all my 
ornaments, and really I don't think a man has a right 
to such a delightful manicure set. I felt terribly ner- 
vous in the lavatory, though. I could hear some one 
in the billiard-room all the time." 

"That's all right!" he declared. "I've locked the 
door there, and have the key in my pocket. No one 
can get in from that side." 

"Please talk, and don't watch me," she begged. 
" I 'm ashamed to be so hungry." 

He smiled and helped her to some more chicken. If 
he talked he was scarcely conscious of what he said. 
All the time his eyes kept straying towards her. She 
had taken off her jacket and was dressed simply enough 
in a blouse of some soft white material and a dark skirt. 


Everything, from the ornaments at her neck, the dull 
metal waistband, and the trim shoes, seemed to him 
to be carefully chosen, and the best of their sort. She 
wore no rings, and her fingers had the rosy pinkness of 
health. If she had seemed graceful to him before in 
the drawing-room of Eunton Place, and surrounded 
by some of the most beautiful women in the country, 
she seemed more than ever so now, seated in the some- 
what worn chair of his little studio. The color, too, 
seemed to have come back to her cheeks. She seemed 
to have regained in some measure her girlishness. Her 
eyes were ever ready to laugh into his. She chattered 
away as though the world after all contained nothing 
more serious for her than for any other girl. Buncombe 
hated to strike another note, yet he knew that sooner 
or later it must be done. 

"You are quite sure that you will not have any- 
thing else ? " he asked. 

" Absolutely, thanks ! I have never enjoyed any- 
thing so much in my life." 

He glanced at his watch. It was half-past eleven. 

"I am afraid," he said, "that I am going to be a 
nuisance to you, but one's friends often are that. I 
want to be your friend. I want to prove myself such. 
I am not an inquisitive person, by any means, but fate 
has declared that I should be your inquisitor. There 
are some questions which I am bound to ask you." 

Her face grew suddenly grave, 

"There is so little," she murmured, "which T can 
tell you." 

"We shall see," he answered. "In the first place, 
Lord Eunton has been here. He is one of my oldest 
friends, and a very good fellow. He came to tell me 


that Von Rothe had been robbed in his house of some 
valuable papers. He came partly to ask my advice. 
All the time I was sitting opposite to him, with those 
papers in my pocket." 

She looked at him strangely. 

"Perhaps," she said quietly, "you gave them up 
to him." 

" I did not," he answered. " You know very well 
that I did not." 

" It was your duty," she said in a low tone. 

"Perhaps so. On the other hand," he continued, 
" you trusted me. The papers are safe." 

" Does he know that you have them ? " she asked. 

" He knows nothing ! " 

She looked at him steadfastly — not with any ap- 
pearance of doubting his word, and yet as though she 
were revolving something in her mind concerning him. 

"I am thinking," she said, "how much better it 
would have been for both of us if we had never met." 

" The fates thought otherwise," he answered. " I 
searched Paris for you, only to find you at my gates. 
The fates meant you to be my friend. We must be 
careful not to disappoint them. " 

She shook her head a little wistfully. 

" You have been very good to me," she said, " but 
you don't understand " 

" Precisely ! " he interrupted. " I don't understand. 
I want to. To begin with — what in this world induced 
you to throw in your lot even for an hour with the man 
who called himself Fielding ? " 

" I can answer no questions concerning myself," 
she said sadly. 

He smiled. 


"Come," he said, "it isn't so serious as all that, is 
it ? Sooner or later your friends are sure to find you, 
and they will not be content with such a statement as 
that. You were summoned one day to Paris by or on 
behalf of your brother, who had unaccountably disap- 
peared there. You immediately appear to have followed 
suit. You had no friends in Paris — neither, I think, 
had he. I believe I am correct in saying that you had 
neither of you ever been there before. If your brother 
has fallen into bad hands, and if those same people are 
trying to work upon your fears by leading you into 
this sort of thing — well, I have friends who are 
powerful enough to bring you safely out of any den 
of thieves in the world. You are in an impossible 
situation, my dear young lady. Nature never meant 
you for an adventuress. There is no necessity for 
you to become one. Why do you look at me like 

There was terror in her face. He had hoped to 
reassure her, to give her courage. On the contrary 
every word he spoke only seemed to increase her 

" Oh, I am afraid ! " she murmured. " I wish I had 
taken my chance. I ought not to have burdened you 
for a moment with my affairs. I have given you the 
right to ask me questions which I cannot answer." 

He was perplexed. 

" If you have given promises to these people " he 


" Oh, there is no question of promises," she inter- 
rupted. " I am here of my own free will. I refuse 
to answer any questions. I pray only if you would 
be generous that you ask me none, that you keep me 


until to-morrow, and let me go, not only from this 
place, but out of your life. Then indeed I will be 
grateful to you." 

He took her hand in his. She yielded it without 
any attempt at resistance, but it lay in his palm a cold, 
dead thing. 

" I am only concerned for your good," he said gently. 
" It is your happiness only that I am anxious for. You 
were not born or trained for a life of lies and crime. I 
want to save you from it before it is too late." 

" What I do," she said slowly, " I do of my own 
free will." 

" Not quite, I think," he answered, " but let that 
pass. Listen! If you will not talk to me about 
these things, will you talk to my friend, Jarvis Spencer ? 
He is a gentleman, and a journalist by profession, but 
he is also one of the cleverest amateur detectives in 

She held up her hands with a little gesture of horror. 
Her eyes were alight with fear. 

" No ! " she cried. " No ! A thousand times, no ! 
Don't let him come near me, please. Oh, I wish I 
could make you understand," she continued helplessly. 
" You yourself in Paris only a few weeks ago were in 
terrible danger. A girl who only gave, or meant to 
give, you information about my brother and me was 
murdered. You, too, would have been killed if you 
had found anything out." 

He would have answered her lightly, but the memory 
of Mademoiselle Flossie lying dead upon the bed in that 
gloomy little room suddenly rose up before him, and 
the words died away upon his lips. He was silent for 
a moment, and glanced again at his watch. It wanted 


only five minutes to twelve. He came and leaned 
over her chair. 

" Phyllis," he said, " what am I to do about you ? 
I cannot let you go out of my life like this. No, you 
must listen to me for a moment. When Pelham sent 
for me after you had disappeared he showed me your 
picture. I am not exactly the sort of man of whom 
knight-errants are made. I have never gone a mile 
out of my way to meet any woman in my life. My 
life here has seemed of all things the best to me. I am 
a dull, unambitious sort of fellow, you know, since I 
settled down here, and I expected to go on for the rest 
of my days pretty much in the same way. And yet 
when Pelham showed me your picture it was different. 
I made him give a copy to me. I told him — liar that I 
was — that I could not carry the memory of your face 
in my mind, when it was already engraven in my heart. 
And I went off to Paris, Phyllis, like the veriest Don 
Quixote, and I came back very sad indeed when I 
could not find you. Then you came to Eunton Place, 
and the trouble began. I did not care who you were, 
Phyllis Poynton, Sybil Fielding, or any one else. I let 
the others dispute. You were — yourself, and I love 
you, dear. Now do you understand why I cannot let 
you go away like this ? " 

He had both her hands in his now, but her face was 
turned away. Then without any warning, there came a 
soft rapping at the door which led into the library. 

Duncombe reached it in a couple of strides. He 
opened it cautiously, and found Spencer standing there. 

" I thought it best to let you know," he said, " that 
a carriage has stopped in the lane. If I can be of any 
assistance I shall be here — and ready." 

jif '^ \ y;^f;^y^ 


"Duncombe started back. The girl half rose to her feet." 

{.Page 177 


Duncombe nodded and closed the door. The girl 
was sitting upright in her chair, with the old look of 
fear in her eyes. 

"Who was that?" she asked quickly. 

" Spencer," he answered. " He discovered your pres- 
ence here, but he is perfectly discreet. He knocked 
to tell me that a carriage has stopped in the lane 

She was white with fear, but he only laughed, and 
stooping down would have taken her hands once more. 
But at that moment an unexpected sound intervened. 
The deep silence of the house was broken by the ringing 
of the front door bell. 

Duncombe started back. The girl half rose to her feet. 

" The front door ! " he exclaimed. " The servants 
will have gone to bed. I must answer it myself." 

She clung to him with a sudden abandon. She 
was white to the lips. 

" I ^am afraid," she moaned. " Don't leave me 

He glanced towards the window. 

" By Jove, it may be a trap ! " he exclaimed. " Let 
them ring. I '11 stay here with you." 

They stood hand in hand listening. His head was 
turned towards the door, but the gentle pressure of 
her fingers drew him round. Her face was upturned to 
his. Something of the fear had gone. There was an. 
eager, almost desperate, light in her softened eyes, and 
a tinge of color in her cheeks. He caught her into his 
arms, and their lips met. She disengaged herself almost 

" I don't care," she said with a little laugh. " That is 
the first kiss I have ever given to a man, and very likely 



it will be the last. You won't be able to saj that I have 
gone away without payiug my bill. Now go and open 
the front door, Sir George." 

He hesitated for a moment. 

" Say only the word, Phyllis, and no one in the world 
shall ever take you away." 

She did not even answer him. He left her with a 
little sigh. 

" Spencer," he said, " if you hear the slightest noise 
in that room go in and shout for me." 

Spencer nodded. The front door bell rang again. 



DUNCOMBE unfastened the chain and bolts of the 
ponderous front door, and looked out into the 
darkness. A carriage and pair of horses were drawn 
up outside. A man and a woman, both dressed in long 
travelling- coats, were standing upon the door-step. 

" This is Buncombe Hall, I believe ? " the man said. 
" Is Sir George Buncombe at home ? " 

" I am Sir George Buncombe," he answered. " Will 
you come inside ? " 

They crossed the threshold at once. The man was 
tall and dark, and his voice and bearing were immistak- 
able. The woman was fair, petite, and apparently very 
sleepy. She wore magnificent furs, and she had the air 
of being in a very bad temper. 

" We really are heartily ashamed of ourselves for dis- 
turbing you at such an hour, Sir George," the man said, 
" but you will pardon us when you understand the posi- 
tion. I am the Marquis de St. Ethol, and this is my 
wife. I have a letter to you from my friend the Buke 
of Chestow, with whom we have been staying." 

Buncombe concealed his astonishment as well as he 
was able. He bowed to the lady, and led them towards 
the library. Spencer, who had heard them coming, had 
hastily concealed his revolver, and was lounging in an 
easy-chair reading the evening paper. 


" I liln afraid that my servants are all in bed," Dun- 
combe said, " and I can offer you only a bachelor's 
hospitality. This is my friend, Mr. Spencer — the Mar- 
quis and Marquise de St. EthoL Wheel that easy-chair 
up, Spencer, will you ? " 

Spencer's brow had betrayed not the slightest sign of 
surprise, but Buncombe fancied that the Marquis had 
glanced at him keenly. He was holding a note in his 
hand, which he offered to Buncombe. 

" My errand is so unusual, and the hour so extraordi- 
nary," he said, " that I thought it would be better for 
Chestow to write you a line or two. Will you please 
read it?" 

Duncombe tore open the envelope. 

" Chestow, Wednesday Evening. 
" My dear Buncombe, — My friend Be St. Ethol tells 
me that he is obliged, at great personal inconvenience, to 
execute a commission for a friend which involves a some- 
what unceremonious call upon you to-night. He desires 
me, therefore, to send you these few lines. The Marquis 
de St. Ethol and his wife are amongst my oldest friends. 
It gives me great pleasure to vouch for them both in 
every way. 

" Yours sincerely, 

" Chestow." 

" The letter, I am afraid," the Marquis said, smiling, 
" does little to satisfy your curiosity. Permit me to 
explain my errand in a few words." 

" Certainly," Buncombe interrupted. " But won't you 
take something ? I am glad to see that Spencer is look- 
ing after your wife." 

The Marquise had raised her veil, and was leaning 


back in a chair, with a sandwich poised in the 
fingers of one hand and a glass of Burgundy in the 
other. She was looking a little less bored, and was 
chatting gayly to Spencer, whose French was equal to 
her own. 

" I thank you very much," the Marquis said. " I will 
not take anything to drink, but if you have cigarettes — 
ah, thanks!" 

He lit one, and sat on the arm of an easy-chair. 

" The facts are these," he said. " I have a great 
friend in Paris who, knowing that I was at Chestow, 
and returning to France to-morrow, has, I must say, 
taken some advantage of my good nature. I am 
asked to call here and escort home to her friends a 
young lady, who, I understand, is for the moment a 
guest under your roof. My friend, I must say, tele- 
graphs in a most mysterious manner, but he is evidently 
very anxious that we. should accede to his request. Our 
appearance here at this time of night I admit is most 
unjustifiable, but what were we to do ? It is abso- 
lutely necessary for my wife to catch the two-twenty 
from Charing Cross to-morrow. I hope that my friend 
will some day appreciate my devotion. To come 
round by your house I have had to borrow a carriage 
from my friend Chestow. "We shall have to drive to 
Norwich, and catch a train from there to London in the 
small hours of the morning. I presume the young lady 
is here ? " 

" The young lady is here ! " Buncombe answered. 
"May I inquire the name of the friend to whom you 
are asked to take her ? " 

The Marquis yawned slightly. He, too, seemed 


** My dear Sir George," he said, " I trust that you will 
appreciate my position in this matter. I do not even 
know the young lady's name. My eccentric friend in 
his telegram, which occupied four forms, most specially 
insisted that I should ask or answer no questions con- 
cerning her." 

" You are not aware, then, of the circumstances which 
led to her coming here ? " Buncombe asked. 

" I am utterly ignorant of them," the Marquis an- 
swered. " I am constrained to remain so." 

" You no doubt have some message for her," Dun- 
combe said. " Her position here is a little peculiar. 
She may desire some sort of information as to her 

The Marquis knocked the ash off his cigarette. 

" If you will produce the young lady," he said, " I 
think that you will find her prepared to come with us 
without asking any questions." 

Duncombe threw open the door which led into the 
inner room. The girl stepped forward as far as the 
threshold and looked out upon them. 

" The Marquis and the Marquise de St. Ethol," Dun- 
combe said to her. " They have brought me a letter 
from the Duke of Chestow, and they have come to take 
you back to France." 

The girl looked fixedly for a moment at the Marquise. 
If any word or sign passed between them it escaped 
Duncombe. Phyllis was content, however, to ask no 

" I am quite ready," she said calmly. 

The Marquise rose. 

" Your luggage can be sent on," she remarked. 

Duncombe approached Phyllis, and stood by her side. 


" These people/* he said, " will not tell me where 
they are taking you to. Are you content to go ? " 

" I must go," she answered simply. 

" You wish me to give you " 

"If you please," she interrupted. 

He turned towards the door. 

" I have something belonging to Miss — to my guest," 
he said, " in my own room. If you will excuse me for 
a moment I will fetch it." 

He returned with the sealed envelope which she had 
given him, and which he placed in her hands. He 
carried also a fur coat and an armful of wraps. 

" You must take these," he declared. " It is cold 

" But how can I return them to you ? " she protested. 
" Xo, not the coat, please. I will take a rug if you like." 

" You will take both," he said firmly. " There need 
be no trouble about returning them. I shall be in Paris 
myself shortly, and no doubt we shall come across one 

Her eyes flashed something at him. WTiat it was he 
could not rightly tell. It seemed to him that he saw 
pleasure there, and fear, but more of the latter. The 
Marquis intervened. 

" I trust," he said, " that in that case you will give us 
the pleasure of seeing something of you. We live in the 
Avenue de St. Cloud." 

" You are very kind," Buncombe said. " I shall not 
fail to come and see you." 

Spencer threw open the door, and they passed out. 
Phyllis kept by Buncombe's side. He felt her hand 
steal into his. 

" I want you to keep this envelope for me," she 


whispered. " It contains nothing which could bring 
you into trouble, or which concerns any one else. It is 
just something which I should like to feel was in safe 

He thrust it into his pocket. 

" I will take care of it," he promised. " And — you 
won't forget me ? We shall meet again — sooner per- 
haps than you expect." 

She shook her head. 

" I hope to Heaven that we shall not ! At least, not 
yet," she murmured fervently. 

From the carriage window she put out her hand. 

"You have been very kind to me," she said. 

" An impossible word," he answered, with well- 
affected gayety. *' A pleasant journey to you." 

Then the carriage rolled away, and Spencer and he 
were left alone. Duncombe secured the front door, and 
they walked slowly back to the library. 

" You know Paris well," Duncombe said. " Have 
you ever heard of these people ? " 

Spencer smiled. 

" My dear fellow ! " he exclaimed. " De St. Ethol is 
one of the first nobles in France. I have seen him at 
the races many times." 

" Not the sort of people to lend themselves to any- 
thing shady ? " 

"The last in the world," Spencer answered. "She 
was the Comtesse de Laugnan, and between them they 
are connected with half a dozen Koyal houses. This 
business is getting exceedingly interesting, Duncombe I " 

But Duncombe was thinking of the empty room. 



" T SUPPOSE," the boy said thoughtfully, " I must 

I seem to you beastly ungrateful. " You 've been 
a perfect brick to me ever since that night. But I 
can't help being a bit homesick. You see, it was 
really the first time I 'd ever been away from home 
for long, and though my little place is n't a patch on 
this, of course, still, I was born there, and I 'm jolly 
fond of it." 

His companion nodded, and his dark eyes rested 
for a moment upon the other's face. Guy Poynton 
was idly watching the reapers at work in the golden 
valley below, and he did not catch his friend's 

" You are very young, mon cher ami" he said. " As 
one grows older one demands change. Change always of 
scene and occupation. Now I, too, am most hideously 
bored here, although it is my home. For me to live is 
only possible in Paris — Paris, the beautiful." 

Guy looked away from the fields. He resented a little 
his friend's air of superiority. 

" There 's only a year's difference in our ages ! " he 

Henri de Bergillac smiled — this time more expres- 
sively than ever, and held out his hands. 


" I speak of experience, not years/' he said. " You 
have lived for twenty years in a very delightful spot no 
doubt, but away from everything which makes life en- 
durable, possible even, for the child of the cities. I have 
lived for twenty-one years mostly in Paris. Ah, the 
difference ! " 

Guy shrugged his shoulders, and leaned back in his 

" Well," he said briefly, " tastes differ. I 've seen 
quite all I want to of Paris for the rest of my life. Give 
me a fine June morning in the country, and a tramp 
roimd the farm, or an early morning start in September 
walking down the partridges, or a gray day in Novem- 
ber with a good gee underneath, plenty of grass ahead, 
and hounds talking. Good God, I wish I were back in 

Henri smiled and caressed his upper lip, where symp- 
toms of a moustache were beginning to appear. 

" My dear Guy," he said, " you speak crudely because 
you do not understand. You know of Paris only its 
grosser side. How can one learn more when he cannot 
even speak its language? You know the Paris of the 
tourist. The real magic of my beautiful city has never 
entered into your heart. Your little dabble in its vices 
and frivolities must not count to you as anything final. 
The joy of Paris to one who understands is the exqui- 
site refinement, the unsurpassed culture, of its abysmal 

" The devil 1 " Guy exclaimed. " Have you found out 
all that for yourself ? " 

Henri was slightly annoyed. He was always annoyed 
when he was not taken seriously. 

" I have had the advantage," he said, " of many friend- 


ships with men whose names you would scarcely know, 
but who directed the intellectual tendencies of the 
younger generation of Parisians. People call us de- 
cadents — I suppose, because we prefer intellectual pro- 
gression to physical activity. I am afraid, dear friend, 
that you would never be one of us." 

" I am quite sure of it," Guy answered. 

" You will not even drink absinthe," Henri continued, 
helping himself from a little carafe which stood between 
them, " absolutely the most artistic of all drinks. You 
prefer a thing you call a pipe to my choicest cigarettes, 
and you have upon your cheeks a color of which a 
ploughboy should be ashamed." 

Guy laughed good-humoredly. 

" Well, I can't help being sunburnt 1 " he declared. 
Henri sighed delicately. 

" Ah, it is not only that," he said. " I wish so much 
that I could make you understand. You positively 
cultivate good health, take cold baths and walks and 
exercises to preserve it." 

" Why the dickens should n't I ? " 

Henri half closed his eyes. He was a dutiful nephew, 
but he felt that another month with this clodhopper of 
an English boy would mean the snapping of his finely 
strung nerves. 

" My friend," he began gently, " we in Paris of the 
set to whom I belong do not consider good health to 
be a state which makes for intellectual progression. 
Good health means the triumph of the physical side 
of man over the nervous. The healthy animal sleeps 
and eats too much. He does not know the stimulus 
of pain. His normal condition is unaspiring — not to 
say bovine. The first essential, therefore, of life, 


according to our tenets, is to get rid of superfluous 

Guy did not trust himself to speak this time. He 
only stared at his companion, who seemed pleased to 
have evoked his interest. 

"Directly the body is weakened," Henri continued. 
" the brain begins to act. With the indisposition for 
physical effort comes activity of the imagination. Cig- 
arettes, drugs, our friend here," he continued, patting the 
carafe, " late nights, la helle passion — all these — all 
these " 

He broke off in the middle of his sentence. Simulta- 
neously he abandoned his carefully chosen attitude of 
studied languor. He was leaning forward in his chair 
watching a carriage which had just come into sight 
along the straight wide road which led from the outside 
world to the chateau. 

" The devil ! " he ezclaimed. " My respected uncle ! 
Jacques I " 

A man-servant stepped out upon the terrace. 

" Monsieur 1 " 

" Kemove the absinthe, Jacques. Monsieur le Due 
arrives ! " 

Guy, who also had been watching the carriage, 
gave utterance to a little exclamation. He pointed 
to two figures on horseback who rode behind the 

" The gendarmes ! " he exclaimed. " They have come 
for me at last ! " 

His face was no longer ruddy. The pallor of fear 
had crept to his cheeks. A note of despair rang in his 

His companion only laughed. 


"Gendarmes, perhaps," he answered, "but not for 
you, my young friend. Have I not told you that you 
are in sanctuary here ? A guest of the Due de 
Bergillac evades all suspicion. Ah, I understand well 
those gendarmes. Let their presence cause you no anx- 
iety, cher monsiettr. They are a guard of honor for 
my reverend uncle and the personage who rides with 

Guy resumed his chair, and sat with his head buried 
in his hands in an attitude of depression. His com- 
panion leaned over the stone balustrade of the terrace 
and waved his hand to the occupants of the carriage 
below. They pulled up at the bottom of the steps 
and commenced slowly to ascend. In obedience to 
an imperious gesture from his uncle, Henri advanced 
to meet them. He greeted his uncle with graceful 
affection. Before the other man, although his appear- 
ance was homely and his dress almost untidy, he bowed 
very low indeed, and accepted his proffered hand as 
a mark of favor. 

The Due de Bergillac was tall, sallow, with black 
moustache and imperial. He possessed all the personal 
essentials of the aristocrat, and he had the air of one 
accustomed to command. 

" Henri," he said, " your young friend is with you ? " 

"But certainly," his nephew answered with a sigh. 
" Am I not always obedient ? He has scarcely been 
out of my sight since we arrived." 

" Very good ! You saw us arrive just now. Did 
you mention the name of Monsieur Grisson ? " the 
Duke asked. 

" But certainly not ! " Henri answered. 

The Duke nodded. 


"You have discretion," he said. "Monsieur Grisson 
is here incognito. He wishes to hear your young friend's 
story from his own lips." . 

The Duke's companion nodded silently. He had 
the air of a silent man. He was short, inclined to be 
stout, and his dress and bearing were almost bourgeois. 
His features were large and not particularly intelligent, 
his cheeks were puffy, and his gray beard ill-humored. 
He had the double neck of the Frenchman of the lower 
class who has not denied himself the joys of the cuisine, 
and his appearance would have been hopelessly com- 
monplace but for the deep-set brilliant black eyes 
which lit up his whole face and gave it an aspect of 

"After dejeuner, you understand," he said. "It is 
well that your young friend should not understand 
that I came here for no other reason. I will see first 
your manuscripts. Monsieur le Due." 

The Duke waved his hand courteously to Guy as 
the two men passed along on their way to the librar3\ 
Henri resumed his seat with a little shrug of the 

" My respected uncle will bring such strange people 
here to see his manuscripts and collection of missals,'' 
he remarked. " For myself it is a hobby which wearies 
me. And you, mon cher Guy ? " 

"I know nothing about them," he answered. "But 
the gendarmes, Henri ? Why did they ride with your 
uncle's carriage ? " 

Henri smiled reassuringly. 

" The old gentleman," he said, " has something to do 
with the Government, and they were in attendance upon 
him. You can realize, my friend," he added, "that 


you are indeed in a republican country. Such people 
must have the entree to our houses, even to our table. 
I presume that you will have the pleasure of taking 
luncheon with him even." 

A man-servant came out upon the terrace. 

"Monsieur le Due desires me to say that luncheon 
is served," he announced. 

Henri passed his arm through his friend's. 

" Come," he said, " let us go and see if we can amuse 
ourselves with my uncle's venerable friend. I do not 
suppose that he speaks English, but I will interpret 
for you." 



GUY moved uneasily upon his chair. The color 
mounted almost to his forehead. It was a humili- 
ation this, upon which he had not counted. Monsieur 
Grisson was sitting within a few feet of him. A ser- 
viette was tucked carefully underneath his collar, and 
his face was a little flushed with the exercise of eat- 
ing. His eyes, however, were undimmed, and his man- 
ners, although a little brusque, had certainly not merited 
the epithet of bourgeois. 

"It isn't much of a story," Guy began, makmg a 
desperate effort. " It was my first visit to Paris, and I 
lost my head a bit. I drank too much wine and quar- 
relled with a fellow who certainly insulted me. They 
all told me that I must fight him, so " 

" Stop, Monsieur Poynton ! " 

Guy raised his head in surprise. The exclama- 
tion had come from the Due de Bergillac. Monsieur 
Grisson was looking towards him as though for an 

" My dear young friend," the Duke remarked with 
a smile, "it is my stupidity which is to blame. I 
had forgotten the little matter to which you are al- 
luding, and — between ourselves — it is one which is 
very much better not related to Monsieur Grisson. 
I was alluding to your other adventure — up in the 
Pozen forest." 


Guy for a moment was too astouislied for words. Then 
he recovered himself with a little laugh and raised his 
head. There was nothing terrible in the other affair. 

" I will tell Monsieur Grisson about that with pleas- 
ure," he said, "if it is likely to interest him. I was 
in the North of Germany on a walking-tour, and I 
had rather a stupid fancy to go as far as the Russian 
frontier, and then return by Vienna to Paris. I was 
quite alone, and had no one's plans but my own to 
consult, so I started off from Steritz, I think the place 
was called. AVell, we were within about forty miles 
of a place called Renzan when our train was stopped 
and shunted. We were told that some specials were 
to go by. I should think we must have waited there 
for an hour or more. Anyhow I got sick of it, and 
passed through the cars on to the rear platform, and 
down on to the line. I spoke to the guard, and I 
understood him to say that we should not be starting 
for at least half an hour. I strolled along the line 
a little way and stopped to light a pipe. Suddenly 
I heard a whistle, and when I turned round the rear 
light of the train was moving away. I shouted and 
ran as hard as I could, but it was no use. In less than 
two minutes the train was out of my sight, and I was 
left alone." 

The Duke pushed a small atlas across the table. 

" I wonder," he said, " if you could put your finger on 
about the spot where you were ? Here, you see, is the 
railway line." 

Guy studied it for a few moments carefully, and 
looked at the scale. Then he pointed to a certain spot. 

"As near as I could say," he declared, "about 



The Duke and Monsieur Gris^on exchanged quick 
glances. Guy was beginning to feel a little mystified 

" Proceed, if you please," the Duke said courteously. 
" I am sure that Monsieur Grisson finds your story most 

interesting. Permit me." 

Guy sipped the fin cJiampagne from the glass which 
the Duke had carefully filled, and took a cigarette from 

the box at his elbow. 

" I found myself/' he continued, " in the middle of a 
dense pine forest, with just sufficient clearing for two 
lines of raQs and no more. There seemed, to be nothing 
for me to do but to walk ahead in the direction which 
the train had taken. I lit a pipe and started out all 
right, but I vev" s ::i _- : :::-:. Tlie -le-r«rs were a 
long wav ai:-ar:, ar.;: :::- :r:::'-; ";, -:"^ecn i'r:^-h:fullv rouorh. 
I walked for hours withou: seeing the slightest sign 
of a -:a:i-n :: a ':':■-r^^: in :lie "::'^. a::! nna^v I -a: 
dovrii bta:. My fe- were all ll:---, an:l I f^l: 
that I couldn't walk another yard. Fjr:nna:ely it was 
a warm night, and I raaa-r •,::: n:.y I : ;■ oravrl under 
the bracken just in-:.i- the w::;i un : l; ::■ sleep. I 
found a comfortable place, and Id 7:-: _- ::- :: r:.en a 
noise close at hand woke me. I sa: up and 1 "-:- : 

"Within a few feet of me an engine and a single 
carriage had pulled up. A: incervals along the Yv^- ■:■.- 
far as I could see soldiers were stationed like .-rL.::r~. 
I could see that they were looking sharply up and 
down, and even a little way into the w; i. From 
the train three or four men in long cloaks L, : a.'.eady 
descended. They were standing in the track talking 

For the first time Monsieur Grisson interrupted. 


He took his cigar from his mouth and leaned over 
towards the young Englishman. 

" You were lost yourself. You did not accost them ? 
Ask them the way anywhere ? " 

"It seems odd, I suppose, that I didn't," Guy an- 
swered, " but do you know there was an air of secrecy 
about the whole thing which rather frightened me. 
And those soldiers had exactly the air of looking for 
somebody to shoot. Anyhow, while I was hesitating 
what to do, there was a whistle and another train came 
from the opposite direction. Then, of course, I waited 
to see what was going to happen." 

" And you saw ? " the Duke began. 

"I saw another single carriage arrive, more men in 
long cloaks and more soldiers. There was a brief but 
hearty greeting between two men, who seemed to be the 
principals in this little pantomime. Then they both 
got into the train which had arrived first, and I could see 
them sitting at a table talking, and a third man, who 
seemed to be a sort of secretary, was writing all the 
time. In about half an hour they both stepped back on 
to the line, and every one commenced shaking hands and 
saying good-bye. Then the whole thing seemed to melt 
away. The trains went on, the soldiers climbed into a 
truck attached to one of them, and everything was just 
as quiet as before." 

" And afterwards ? " 

"I waited until it was clear daylight, and then I 
resumed my walk along the line. I found the next 
station about five miles off, and I was thankful to 
see that the guard of the train which had left me be- 
hind had had the sense to put my luggage out there. 
I went to the hotel and had some breakfast, and 


afterwards I chucked my idea of going so far as the 
frontier, and left for Vienna. A week later I was in 

The Duke nodded. 

" I have asked you this question before," he said 
"but Monsieur Grisson is anxious to hear it from 
your own lips. To how many people did you tell 
this little adventure of yours before you reached 

" To not a soul ! " Guy answered. " I was very dull 
in Vienna. I found no one who could speak English 
and my few words of German did me no good at all. 
I came on to Paris within a week." 

The Duke nodded. 

"And in Paris for the first time!" he remarked. 
" You mentioned the affair ? " 

** Yes ! I took up an illustrated paper at a caf^ 
on the night of my arrival whilst waiting for supper, 
and saw pictures of two men there who reminded me 
very much of the two whom I had seen on the railway 
near Pozen. I think I made some remark out loud 
which attracted the attention of a woman who was 
sitting at the next table, and later on I told her the 
whole story." 

" And since then ? " 

" Since then I have told it to no one." 

" Was there any one in the caf^ you have spoken of 
who seemed to take any particular interest in you ? " 

Guy considered for a moment. 

"There was a young lady from Vienna," he said, 
"who seemed to want to talk to me." 

The two men exchanged glances. 

" Madame has justified herself," the Duke murmured. 


"She was trying to listen to what I was saying to 
the English girl — Mademoiselle Flossie, she called her- 
self, and when she went away with her friends she 
threw me a note with two words on it — 'prenez 
garde!' I know it struck me as beiDg rather queer, 
because " 

He hesitated. The Duke nodded. 

"Go on!" he said. 

" Well, I may as well tell you everything," Guy con- 
tinued, " even if it does sound rather like rot. All the 
time I was in Vienna and on the journey to Paris I 
fancied that I was being followed. I kept on seeing 
the same people, and a man who got in at Strasburg — 
I had seen him before at the hotel in Vienna — tried 
all he could to pal up to me. I hate Germans though, 
and I did n't like the look of the fellow, so I would n't 
have anything to say to him, though I feel sure he 
tipped the conductor to put him in my compartment. 
I gave him the slip at the railway station at Paris, but 
I'm almost sure I saw him that night at the Cafd 

"Your story," Monsieur Grisson said quietly, "be- 
comes more and more interesting. Monsieur le Due 
here has hinted at some slight indiscretion of yours 
on the night of your arrival in Paris. I have some 
influence with the Government here, and I think I can 
promise you some very substantial help in return for 
the information you have given us. But I want you 
to turn your thoughts back to the night you spent by 
the railroad. Can you remember anything further about 
it, however trifling, which you have not told us ? " 

Guy leaned back in his chair and thought for a 


" By Jove," he declared, " there is something which I 
forgot altogether. Just before that little party in the 
railway saloon broke up the chap in the car who had 
been writing left his seat, and a loose page of paper flut- 
tered through the window." 

The two men leaned across the table almost simul- 

"What became of it?" the Duke asked sharply. 

"I picked it up and put it in my pocket," Guy 

"Did you read it?" the Duke asked. 

" I could n't ! It was in German I " 

" Where is it now ? " Monsieur Grisson demanded. 

Guy reflected. The faces of the two men amazed 
him. It was as though great things depended upon 
his answer. 

"It is with my pocketbook and my letter of credit. 
I remember that I kept it as a curiosity." 

" A curiosity ! " the Duke exclaimed. " You have it 

Guy shook his head. 

" It is in my portmanteau ! " he answered. 

The faces of the two men betrayed their disappoint- 
ment. They conversed for a few moments in rapid 
French. Then the Duke turned to Guy. 

"You do not object to our sending a trusted person 
to look through your portmanteau ! " he asked. " Mon- 
sieur Grisson and I are very curious about that sheet of 

"Certainly not," Guy answered. "But may I not 
have my luggage here ? " 

The Duke shook his head. 

"Not yet," he said. "It would not be wise. We 


must give Monsieur Grisson time to arrange your little 

"I don't want to seem a nuisance," Guy continued, 
"but about my sister?" 

" She has been assured of your safety," the Duke de- 
clared. "For the rest we will talk later in the day. 
Monsieur Grisson and I are going to the telephona 
You will find Henri on the terrace." 



"AT the sport, my young friend," Henri murmured, 
J\, from the depths of his basket chair, " I yield you 
without question supremacy. Your rude games, trials 
mostly of brute strength, do not interest me. Your 
horsemanship I must confess that I env}^, and I fear 
that you are a better shot. But two things remain 
to me." 

" Only two ? " Guy murmured. " "WTiat unexampled 
modesty ! " 

" I can drive a racing automobile at eighty miles an 
hour, and with the foils I can play with you." 

" I give you the first," Guy answered, " but I 'm begin- 
ning to fancy myself a bit with the sticks. Let 's have 
a bout ! " 

"My dear Guy," Henri exclaimed, "forgive me, but 
what a crude suggestion ! The first breeze of the day 
is just coming up from the lake. Close your eyes as I 
do. Can't you catch the perfume of the roses and the 
late lilac ? Exquisite. In half an hour you will see a 
new green in the woods there as the sun drops. This 
is silent joy. You would exchange it for vulgar 

"I don't see anything vulgar about fencing," Guy 
replied. "It's all right here, of course, but I'm 
getting stiff, and I have n't the appetite of a kitten. I 


should like a good hour's bout, a swim afterwards in the 
baths, and a rub down. Come on, Henri ! It 11 make 
us as fit as possible." 

Henri shivered a little. 

" My young friend," he murmured, " you move me to 
despair. How can an alliance between nations with 
such contrary ideals be possible ? You would desert 
a beautiful scene like this to gain by vulgar exercise an 
appetite that you may eat. Can't you realize the crude- 
ness of it? Yet I must remember that you are my 
guest," he added, striking the bell by his side. " Antoine 
shall prepare my linen clothes, and I will give you a 
lesson. Antoine," he added, half turning to the man- 
servant who stood by his elbow, " my black linen 
fencing-clothes and shoes in the dressing-room, and 
have the floor in the fencing-gallery sprinkled with 

The man bowed, and Henri slowly rose from his chair. 

" Don't bother about it, you know, if you mind very 
much," Guy said. " Would you rather have a game of 
billiards, or a swim in the lake ? " 

Henri thrust his arm through his friend's. 

" By no means," he answered. " If we are to do any- 
thing at all we will do the thing in which I excel. It 
feeds my vanity, which is good for me, for by disposition 
I am over-modest." 

But they were not destined to fence that night, for 
on their way across the hall the Duke's own servant 
intercepted them. 

"Monsieur le Due," he announced, "desires to speak 
with Monsieur in the library." 

Henri let go his friend's arm. 

" I return to the terrace, mon ami," he said. " You 


can fetch me when my respected uncle has finished with 

Monsieur le Due and Monsieur Grisson were still 
together. Immediately the door was closed the former 
turned to Guy. 

" Your luggage has been thoroughly searched," he 
announced, " by a trusty agent. The letter of credit is 
stni there, but the paper of which you spoke is 

Guy looked a little incredulous. 

"I know it was there the evening I left the hotel," 
he answered. " It was fastened to my letter of credit 
by an elastic band. The man you sent must have 
missed it." 

The Duke shook his head. 

" That," he said, " is impossible. The paper has been 

"But who could have known about it?" Guy pro- 

" Monsieur Poynton," the Duke said, " we think it well 
— Monsieur Grisson and I — to take you a little further 
into our confidence. Has it occurred to you, I wonder, 
to appreciate the significance of what you saw on the 
railway in the forest of Pozen ? " 

" I 'm afraid — not altogether," Guy answered. 

" We assumed as much," the Duke said. " What you 
did see was this. You saw a meeting between the 
German Emperor and the Czar of Russia. It was mar- 
vellously well arranged, and except those interested you 
were probably the only witness. According to the news- 
papers they were never less than four hundred miles 
apart, but on the day in question the Emperor was 
reported to be confined to his room by a slight chill, 


and the Czar to be resting after a fatiguing journey. 
You understand that this meeting was meant to be kept 
a profound secret ? " 

Guy nodded. 

" But why ? " he asked. " Was there any special 
reason why they should not meet ? " 

" My yoimg friend," the Duke answered gravely, " this 
meeting of which you were the only witness might, 
but for your chance presence there, have altered the 
destiny of Europe. Try how you will you cannot ap- 
preciate its far-reaching possibilities. I will endeavor to 
give you the bare outlines of the affair. Even you, I 
suppose, have observed or heard of the growing friend- 
ship between my country and yours, which has cul- 
minated in what is called the entente cordiale." 

" Yes, I know as much as that," Guy admitted. 

** This movement," the Duke said, " has been looked 
upon with growing distaste and disfavor in Russia. 
Russia is the traditional and inevitable enemy of your 
country. Russia had, I may go so far as to say, made 
up her mind for war with England very soon after her 
first reverses at the hands of Japan. I am telling you 
now what is a matter of common knowledge amongst 
diplomatists when I tell you that it was the attitude of 
my country — of France — which alone has stayed her 

" This is very interesting," Guy said, " even to 
me, who have never taken any interest in politics, 
but " 

" Wait I Russia, as I say, found us indisposed to back 
her in any quarrel with England. She tm-ned then, 
of course, to Germany. We became aware, through our 
secret service, that something was on foot between the 


two countries. With our utmost vigilance we were 
unable to obtain any particulars. It is you, Monsieur 
Poynton, who have brought us the first information of 
a definite character." 

Guy looked his amazement, but he said nothing. 

" To you," the Duke continued, " a secret meeting 
between these two monarchs may not seem at all an 
astonishing thing. To us it is of the gravest political 
importance. Some sort of an understanding was arrived 
at between them. What was it ? That sheet of paper 
which was once in your possession might very possibly 
contain the clue. Now you can appreciate its impor- 
tance to us." 

" What an ass I was not to take more care of it ! " Guy 

" There are other things to be considered," the Duke 
continued. "For the last month every dockyard in 
Germany has been working night and day, and we 
have authentic information as to a huge mobilization 
scheme which is already on foot. We might have 
wondered against whom these preparations were in- 
tended but for you. As it is, the English Government 
has been fully apprised of everything. Your magnificent 
fleet, under the pretext of seeing the Baltic Squadron 
safely on its way, has been gradually concentrated. 
From despatches to the German Ambassador which 
we have managed to intercept in England, we know 
that it is intended to raise a casus belli during the 
presence of the squadron in British waters. Quite 
unexpectedly, as it was hoped, Germany was to range 
herself on Eussia's side and strike against England. 
We, Russia's nominal ally, have had no intimation of 
this whatever. We are apparently left to ourselves — 


ignored. Our friendship with your country has de- 
stroyed Russia's friendship for us. She relies no doubt 
on our neutrality, and she makes terms, doubtless 
absurdly favorable ones, with our ancient enemy. 
In the eyes of the world France is to be made to appear 
ridiculous. The German Empire is to be ruled from 
London, and the Emperor Wilhelm's known ambition 
is to be realized." 

"It sounds," Guy admitted, "like a nightmare. I 
know you foreigners all think we English are a lot 
too cock-sure, but we have our own ideas, you know, 
about any attempt at invasion." 

"I am afraid," the Duke said, "that when it comes 
to throwing a million men at different points of your 
coasts protected by a superb navy you might find 
yourselves unpleasantly surprised. But let that pass. 
Have I said enough to make you understand the impor- 
tance of what you saw in the forest of Pozen ? Good ! 
Now I want you to understand this. In the interests 
of your country and mine it is most important that the 
fact of our knowledge of this meeting should be kept a 
profound secret." 

" Yes," Guy said, " I understand that." 

" Your presence there," the Duke continued, " created 
a certain amount of suspicion. You were watched 
to Paris by German spies, and if they had had the 
least idea of how much you had seen your life would 
not have been worth five minutes' purchase. As it 
is they are uneasy over your disappearance. There 
are at least a dozen men and women in Paris and 
England to-day who are searching for you ! You are 
moderately safe here, but not altogether. I want to 
put them finally off the scent. I might, of course, put 


you into such confinement that detection would be 
impossible. I do not want to do that. You have 
rendered your own country and mine an immense 
service. I prefer to treat you as a gentleman and a 
man of honor, and to take you, as I hope you will 
see that I have done, into our entire confidence." 

" Monsieur le Due," Guy answered, " I can assure 
you that I appreciate all that you have said. I am 
willing to do exactly as you say." 

•' To-morrow morniDg's papers," the Duke said slowly, 
" will contain an account of the finding of your body in 
the Seine." 

" My what I " Guy exclaimed. 

" Your body ! We are going to stab and drown you. 
Perhaps I should say we are going to discover you 
stabbed and drowned." 

Guy half rose from his seat. 

" I say " he began. 

" I need not explain, of course," the Duke continued, 
" that you will suffer by proxy. The whole affair has 
been carefully arranged by the commissioners of police. 

"An account of your doings since you arrived in 
Paris will be given, which I fear may not flatter you, 
but you must remember that it is necessary to put our 
German friends completely off the scent, and in a 
month's time or so you will reappear, and everything 
will be contradicted." 

" But my sister ? " Guy exclaimed. 

"Concerning your sister," the Duke continued, "we 
have further explanations, perhaps I should say apologies, 
to offer you at some future time. For the present — this 
only. She is now in Paris. She is to some extent in our 
confidence, and you shall see her within the next few days." 


" And what are you going to do with me really ? " 
Guy asked. 

"You will remain here. Half the servants of the 
household have been dismissed, and every one who is 
not absolutely trustworthy has been got rid of. We 
are in close consultation with your English Cabinet, 
and the moment the time arrives for us to disclose our 
knowledge of these secrets you will be free to go where 
you please." 

" Absolutely free ? " Guy asked anxiously. 

" Certainly ! " the Duke answered. " The other little 
affair is cancelled by your present services. In fact, 
as regards that, you need not give yourself another 
moment's smideij" 

A small telephone which stood upon the table rang 
sharply. The Duke exchanged a few sentences and 
replaced the receiver. He turned to Guy. 

" It is an affair of the tides," he said. " Your body 
was washed up this afternoon, six hours before time. 
It will be in the evening papers. Ah 1 " 

The telephone rang again. This time it was Monsieur 
Grisson who was required. He listened for a moment 
or two with inscrutable countenance. Then he glanced 
at the clock. 

"The Eussian Ambassador," he said, replacing the 
receiver, " desires an immediate interview with me on a 
matter of the utmost importance — and the Eussian 
Fleet has left the Baltic 1" 



DUNCOMBE was passed from the concierge to a 
footman, and from a footman to a quietly dressed 
groom of the chambers, who brought him at last to 
Madame la Marquise. She gave him the tips of her 
fingers and a somewhat inquiring gaze. 

" Sir George Duncombe, is it not ? " she remarked. 
" I am not receiving this afternoon, but your message 
was so urgent. Forgive me, but it was not by any 
chance my husband whom you wished to see ? " 

" Your husband would have done as well, Madame," 
Duncombe answered bluntly, "but I learned that he 
was not at home. My visit is really to Miss Poynton. 
I should be exceedingly obliged if you would allow 
me the privilege of a few minutes' conversation with 

The forehead of the Marquise was wrinkled with 
surprise. She stood amidst all the wonders of her 
magnificent drawing-room like a dainty Dresden doll — 
petite, cold, dressed to perfection. Her manner and her 
tone were alike frigid. 

" But, Monsieur," she said, " that is wholly impossible. 
Mademoiselle is too thoroughly upset by the terrible 
news in the paper this morning. It is unheard of. 
Monsieur may call again if he is a friend of Mademoiselle 
Poynton's — say, in a fortnight." 


" Marquise," he said, " it is necessary that I see 
Mademoiselle at once. I am the bearer of good 

The Marquise looked at him steadily. 

" Of good news, Monsieur ? " 


" But how can that be ? " 

" If Madame will give me the opportunity," he said, 
" I should only be too glad to explain — to Mademoiselle 

"If, indeed, it should be good news," the Marquise 
said slowly, " it were better broken gradually to Made- 
moiselle. I will take her a message." 

" Permit me to see her. Marquise," he begged. ** My 
errand is indeed important." 

She shook her head. 

" It is not," she said, " according to the convenances. 
Mademoiselle is under my protection. I have not the 
honor of knowing you, Monsieur." 

Duncombe raised his eyebrows. 

" But you remember calling at my house in Norfolk, 
and bringing Miss Poynton away," he said. 

She stared at him calmly. 

" The matter," she said, " has escaped my memory. I 
do not love your country. Monsieur, and my rare visits 
there do not linger in my mind." 

" Your husband," he reminded her, " asked me to visit 
you here." 

" My husband's friends," she replied, " are not mine." 

The calm insolence of her manner towards him 
took him aback. He had scarcely expected such a 

" I can only apologize, Madame," he said with a bow, 



** for intruding. I will await your husband's return in 
the hall." 

He bowed low, and turned to leave the room. He 
had almost reached the door before she stopped 


He turned round. Her voice was different. 

" Come and sit down here," she said, pointing to a 
sofa by her side. 

He obeyed her, thoroughly amazed. She leaned 
back amongst the cushions and looked at him thought- 

" How is it that you — an Englishman — speak French 
so well ? " she asked. 

" I lived in Paris for some years," he answered. 

" Indeed ! And yet you returned to — Norfolk, is 

He bowed. 

. " It is true, Madame ! " he admitted. 

"How droll!" she murmured. "Miss Poynton — 
she is an old friend of yours ? " 

" I am very anxious to see her, Madame ! " 

" Why ? " 

He hesitated. After all, his was no secret mission. 

" I have reason to believe," he said, " that a mistake 
has been made in the identity of the body found in the 
Seine and supposed to be her brother's." 

She gave a little start. It seemed to him that from 
that moment she regarded him with more interest. 

" But that. Monsieur," she said, " is not possible." 

" Why not ? " 

She did not answer him for a moment. Instead she 
rang a bell. 


A servant appeared almost immediately. 

" Request Monsieur le Marquis to step this way im- 
mediately he returns," she ordered. 

The man bowed and withdrew. The Marquise turned 
again to Duncombe. 

" It is quite impossible ! " she repeated. " Do you 
know who it was that identified — the young 
man ? " 

Duncombe shook his head. 

" I know nothing," he said. " I saw the notice in 
the paper, and I have been to the Morgue with a 

" Were you allowed to see it ? " 

" No ! For some reason or other we were not. But 
we managed to bribe one of the attendants, and we got 
the police description." 

" This," Madame said, " is interesting. Well ? " 

"There was one point in particular in the descrip- 
tion," Duncombe said, " and a very important one, 
which proved to us both that the dead man was not 
Guy Poynton." 

" It is no secret, I presume ? " she said. " Tell me 
what it was." 

Duncombe hesitated. He saw no reason for con- 
cealing the facts. 

" The height of the body," he said, " was given as five 
feet nine. Guy Poynton was over six feet." 

The Marquise nodded her head slowly. 

" And now," she said, " shall I tell you who it is who 
identified the body at the Morgue — apart from the 
papers which were found in his pocket, and which 
certainly belonged to Mr. Poynton ? " 

" I should be interested to know," he admitted. 


" It was Miss Poynton herself. It is that which has 
upset her so. She recognized him at once." 

" Are you sure of this, Madame ? " Buncombe 

"I myself," the Marquise answered, "accompanied 
her there. It was terrible." 

Buncombe looked very grave. 

" I am indeed sorry to hear this," he said. " There 
can be no possibility of any mistake, then ? " 

*■' None whatever ! " the Marquise declared. 

" You will permit me to see her ? " Buncombe begged. 
"If I am not a very old friend — I am at least an 
intimate one." 

The Marquise shook her head. 

" She is not in a fit state to see any one," she de- 
clared. " The visit to the Morgue has upset her almost 
as much as the affair itself. You must have patience, 
Monsieur. In a fortnight or three weeks at the earli- 
est she may be disposed to see friends. Certainly not 
at present." 

" I may send her a message ? " Buncombe asked. 

The Marquise nodded. 

" Yes. You may write it, if you like." 

" And I may wait for an answer ? " 

*' Yes." 

Buncombe scribbled a few lines on the back of a 
visiting-card. The Marquise took it from him and 

" I will return," she said. " You shall be entirely 

She left him alone for nearly ten minutes. She 
had scarcely left the room when another visitor entered. 


The Vicomte de Bergillac, in a dark brown suit 
and an apple-green tie, bowed to Duncombe, and 
carefully selected the most comfortable chair in his 

" So you took my advice, Monsieur," he remarked, 
helping himself to a cushion from another chair, and 
placing it behind his head. 

" I admit it," Duncombe answered. " On the whole I 
believe that it was very good advice." 

" Would you," the Vicomte murmured, " like another 
dose ? " 

" I trust," Duncombe said, " that there is no ne- 

The Vicomte reflected. 

" Why are you here ? " he asked. 

" To see Miss Poynton." 

" And again why ? " 

Duncombe smiled. The boy's manner was so de- 
void of impertinence that he found it impossible to 
resent his questions. 

" Well," he said, " I came hoping to bring Miss 
Poynton some good news. I had information which 
led me seriously to doubt whether the body which 
has ,been found in the Seine is really her 

The Vicomte sat up as though he had been 

" My friend," he said slowly, " I take some interest in 
you, but, upon my word, I begin to believe that you will 
end your days in the Morgue yourself. As you value 
your life, don't tell any one else what you have told me. 
I trust that I am the first." 


" I have told the Marquise," Duncombe answered, 
" and she has gone to find out whether Miss Poynton 
will see me." 

The Vicomte's patent boot tapped the floor slowly. 

"You have told the Marquise," he repeated thought- 
fully. " Stop ! I must think ! " 

There was a short silence. Then the Vicomte looked 

" Very well," he said. " Now listen ! Have you 
any confidence in me ? " 

" Undoubtedly," Duncombe answered. " The ad- 
vice you gave me before was, I know, good. It was 
confirmed a few hours following, and, as you know, I 
followed it." 

" Then listen," the Vicomte said. " L affaire Poynton 
is in excellent hands. The young lady will come to 
no harm. You are here, I know, because you are her 
friend. You can help her if you will." 

" How ? " Duncombe asked. 

" By leaving Paris to-day." 

" Your advice," Dimcombe said grimly, " seems to lack 

The Vicomte shrugged his shoulders. 

" The other affair," he said, " is still open. If I 
stepped to the telephone here you would be arrested 
within the hour." 

" Can't you leave the riddles out and talk so that an 
ordinary man can understand you for a few minutes ? " 
Duncombe begged. 

" It is exactly what remains impossible," the Vicomte 
answered smoothly. " But you know the old saying, 
you have doubtless something similar in your own coun- 
try, ' It is from our friends we suffer most.' Your pres- 


ence here, your — forgive me — somewhat clumsy at- 
tempts to solve this affaire Poynton, are likely to be a 
cause of embarrassment to the young lady herself and 
to others. Apart from that, it will certainly cost you 
your life." 

" Without some shadow of an explanation," Duncombe 
said calmly, " I remain where I am in case I can be of 
assistance to Miss Poynton." 

The young man shrugged his shoulders, and saunter- 
ing to a mirror rearranged his tie. Madame la Marquise 

" You, Henri ! " she exclaimed. 

He bowed low with exaggerated grace, and kissed the 
tips of her fingers. 

" I ! " he answered. " And — for this time with a per- 
fectly legitimate reason for my coming. A commission 
from my uncle." 

" L affaire Poynton ? " 

" Exactly, dear cousin." 

" But why," she asked, " did they not show you into 
my room ? " 

" I learnt that my friend Sir George Duncombe was 
here, and I desired to see him," he rejoined. 

She shrugged her dainty shoulders. 

" You will wait 1 " she directed. Then she turned to 
Duncombe, and handed him a sealed envelope. 

" If you please," she said, " will you read that — 

He tore it open, and read the few hasty lines. Then 
he looked up, and met the Marquise's expectant 

" Madame," he said slowly, " does this come from Miss 
Poynton of her own free will ? " 


She laughed insolently. 

" Monsieur," she said, " my guests are subject to no 
coercion in this house." 

He bowed, and turned towards the door. 
" Your answer, Monsieur ? " she called out. 
" There is no answer," he replied. 




THE Marquise made a wry face at his departing 
figure, which changed swiftly into a smile as she 
turned to the young Vicomte. 

" Ah, these Englishmen ! " she exclaimed. " These 
dull, good, obstinate, stupid pigs of Englishmen ! If 
they would lose their tempers once — get angry, any- 
thing. Do they make love as coldly, I wonder ? " 

'' Dear cousin," he answered, " I do not know. But 
if you will permit me I will show you " 


He sighed. 

" You are so adorable, Ang^le," he murmured. 

" And you," she answered, " are so indiscreet. It 
is not your day, and I am expecting Gustav at any 
moment. I have left word that he is to be shown up 
here. There, my hand for one moment, not so roughly, 
sir. And now tell me why you came." 

" On a diplomatic errand, my dear cousin. I must 
see Miss Poynton." 

She touched a bell. 

" I will send for her," she said. " I shall not let you 
see her alone. She is much too good-looking, and you 
are far too impressionable ! " 

He looked at her reproachfully. 

•'Angele/' he said, "you speak so of a young Eng- 


lish miss — to me, Henri de Bergillac — to me who have 
known — who knows " 

She interrupted him laughing. The exaggerated 
devotion of his manner seemed to amuse her. 

" My dear Henri ! " she said. " I do not believe 
that even a young English miss is safe from you. But 
attend ! She comes." 

Phyllis entered the room and came towards them. 
She was dressed in black, and she was still pale, but her 
eyes and mouth were wholly without affinity to the 
class of young person whom Henri had expected to 
see. He rose and bowed, and Phyllis regarded him 
with frank interest. 

"Phyllis," the Marquise said, "this is the Vicomte 
de Bergillac, and he brings you messages from some 
one or other. Your affairs are quite too complicated 
for my little head. Sit down and let him talk to 

" If Monsieur le Vicomte has brought me messages 
from the right person," Phyllis said with a smile, 
"he will be very welcome. Seriously, Monsieur, I 
seem to have fallen amongst friends here whose only 
unkindness is an apparent desire to turn my life into 
a maze. I hope that you are going to lead me out." 

" I can conceive. Mademoiselle," the Vicomte an- 
swered with his hand upon his heart, " no more 
delightful undertaking." 

" Then I am quite sure," she answered, laughing 
softly, " that we are both going to be very happy. 
Please go on ! " 

"Mademoiselle speaks delightful French," he mur- 
mured, a little surprised. 

" And, Monsieur, I can see," she answered, " is an 


apt flatterer. Afterwards as much as you please. But 
now — well, I want to hear about Guy." 

" Mademoiselle has commanded," he said with a 
little gesture. "To proceed then. Monsieur Guy 
is well, and ^is my constant companion. He is with 
friends who wish him well, and this morning, Made- 
moiselle, the President himself has given written orders 
to the police to proceed no further in the unfortunate 
Uttle affair of which Mademoiselle has knowledge." 

Phyllis had lost all her pallor. She smiled delight- 
fully upon him. Madame la Marquise rose with a 
little impatient movement, and walked to the further 
end of the room. 

"How nice of you to come and tell me this," she 
exclaimed, " and what a relief ! I am sure I think he 
is very fortunate to have made such good friends." 

"Mademoiselle," he declared with emphasis, "one 
at least of those friends is more than repaid." 

She laughed back into his eyes, frankly amused by 
his gallantry. 

"And now," she said, "we come to the beginning 
of the riddles. Why is it necessary for him to be 
supposed drowned, if he is no longer in danger from 
the police ? " 

" Ah, Mademoiselle," he said, " I must speak to 
you now of strange things. But, first, I must implore 
you to promise me this, and remember it always. 
Every word that I am going to say to you now must 
remain for the present a profound secret. That is 
agreed ? " 

" Certaiuly I " she answered. 

" Your brother," he continued, " in his travels on 
the Continent stumbled by chance upon a State secret 


of international importance. He had himself no idea 
of it, but a chance word which he let fall, on the first 
evening I met him, gave the clue to myself and some 
friends. In his enforced retirement we — that is, my 
uncle and others — learned from him the whole story of 
his adventure. It has placed the Government of this 
country under great obligations. This, together with 
your service to us, has secured his pardon." 

" This is wonderful ! " she murmured. 

" It is not all," he continued. " The spies of the 
country where he learnt this secret have followed him 
to Paris. They are to-day searching for him every- 
where. If they knew that he realized the importance 
of what he had seen, and had communicated it to the 
proper persons here, our advantage in knowing it 
would be largely lost. So far they have not traced 
him. Now, I think that you have the key to what 
must have puzzled you so much." 

" This is wonderful I " she murmured. " Let me think 
for a moment." 

"You are naturally anxious," the Vicomte con- 
tinued, " to see your brother. Before very long, 
Mademoiselle, I trust that it may be my pleasure to 
bring you together. But when I tell you that you 
are watched continually in the hope that, through you, 
your brother's hiding-place may be found, you will 
understand the wisdom which for the present keeps 
you apart." 

" I suppose so," she answered dubiously. *' But now 
that his death is reported ? " 

" Exactly, Mademoiselle. The affair has been arranged 
so that the search for your brother will be abandoned 
and the espionage on you removed. If the story of his 


doings in Paris, and the tragic sequel to them, be 
believed by those whom we wish to believe it, then 
they will also assume that his secret has died with him, 
and that their schemes move on towards success. You 
understand ? " 

"Yes, Monsieur le Vicomte, I understand," she an- 
swered slowly. " What, then, do you wish me to 

"Mademoiselle," the Vicomte answered, fixing his 
dark eyes impressively upon her, " for you there remains 
the hardest of all tasks — inaction. Believe me that 
when I came here, it was not my intention to put the 
truth of the matter so plainly before you. Neither was 
it the will of those whose orders I carry out. But I, 
Mademoiselle, before all things, I believe in inspiration. 
I find in Mademoiselle " — he bowed once more — 
" qualities which alter the situation. I — a judge of 
faces as I venture to believe myself — have looked into 
yours, and many things have happened." 

She laughed delightfully. Her eyes were lit with 

" Ah, Monsieur ! " she protested. 

" With you, Mademoiselle," he continued, " reposes 
now a secret of great importance to your country and 
mine. I ask for no pledge of discretion, but I rely upon 
it. And, especially. Mademoiselle, may I warn you 
against your friends?" 

" I understand," she answered. " You wish me to 
share this confidence with no one." 

" With no one," the Vicomte repeated impressively. 
" Not even, Mademoiselle, if I may venture to mention 
a name, with your very persistent admirer. Sir George 
Duncombe, whom I saw here a few moments since." 


She sighed, and the Vicomte's face became one of 
pale anxiety. 

** I have not been permitted to see him," she answered. 
" He was here a few minutes ago." 

" It is wiser so, Mademoiselle," the Vicomte said. " I 
wonder," he added, " whether Mademoiselle will pardon 
the impertinence of a purely personal question ? " 

" I will try," she answered demurely. 

*' This Englishman — Sir George Buncombe — are you 
perhaps — how you say, betrothed to him ? " 

A certain bluntness in the question, and the real or 
affected anxiety of the young man's tone brought the 
color streaming into her cheeks. 

" Monsieur," she exclaimed, " you really must 
not " 

"Ah, but. Mademoiselle," he interrupted, "so much 
depends upon your answer." 

" Absurd ! " she murmured. " I really do not see 
why I should answer such a question at all." 

" You will be merciful ? " he begged, lowering his 

" I will," she answered. " I hope you will appreci- 
ate my confidence. I am not engaged to Sir George 

His sigh of relief was marvellous. She found it 
harder than ever to keep the laughter from her eyes. 

" Mademoiselle," he declared, '' it makes me happy 
to have you say this." 

" Really, Vicomte ! " she protested. 

" The situation, too," he said, " becomes less complex. 
We can very easily deal with him now. He shall annoy 
you no more ! " 

" But he does n't annoy me," she answered calmly. 


" On the contrary I should like to see him very much, if 
I were permitted." 

" Mademoiselle will understand well the indiscretion," 
he said earnestly. 

She sighed a little wearily. 

" I am afraid," she said, " that I find it a little hard 
to understand anything clearly, but you see that I trust 
you. I will not see him." 

" Mademoiselle is very wise," he answered. " Indeed, 
it is better not. There remains now a question which I 
have come to ask." 


" Mademoiselle did not by chance whilst waiting for 
her brother think of examining his luggage ? " 

She nodded. 

" I did look through it," she admitted. 

" There was a paper there, which is missing now — a 
sheet of paper with writing on it — in German. It is not 
possible that Mademoiselle took possession of it?" he 
demanded eagerly. 

She nodded. 

" That is just what I did do," she said. " I could read 
a few words, and I could not understand how it came to 
be in his bag. It seemed to be part of an official agree- 
ment between two countries." 

" You have it now ? " he cried eagerly. " You have it 
in your possession ? " 

She shook her head 

*' I gave it to some one to take care of," she said, 
" when I was over in England. I got frightened when 
we were nearly caught at Kunton, and I did not want it 
to be found upon me." 

'' To whom ? " he cried 


" To Sir George Duncombe I " 

The Vicomte was silent for a moment 

" You believe," he asked, " that Sir George Duncombe 
would guard it carefully ] " 

" I am sure he would," she answered. 

"Mademoiselle," he said, "this is very important. 
Your brother's luggage has been searched, and we came 
to the conclusion that the paper had been taken by 
those who had followed him here, and may possibly have 
been aware that he had it. If we can get possession of 
it, it will be very much to the advantage of your country 
and mine. I scarcely dare say more. Will you give me 
a letter to Sir George instructing him to deliver it up to 

She leaned a little forward and looked steadily into 
his eyes. 

" Monsieur le Yicomte,'' she said, *' I do not know you 
very well, and it is very hard indeed for me to tell who 
are my fi'iends here. Can I trust you 'i " 

" Mademoiselle," he answered, " I will not say ' like 
your brother,* for it is a relationship I have no wish to 
bear. Let me say Hke the person to whom your wel- 
fare is dearer even than his own.'' 

Phyllis felt her lips curve into a smQe. Despite his 
youth and manner, which seemed to her a little affected, 
there was nevertheless undoubted earnestness in the ad- 
miration which he took no pains to conceal 

" Yery well, ^lonsieur le Yicomte,'* she said, " I will 
give you the letter." 



THEY came face to face in the hall of the Grand 
HoteL Duncombe had just returned from his call 
upon the Marquise. Andrew was leaning upon the 
arm of a dark, smooth-shaven man, and had apparently 
just descended from the lift. At the sound of Dun- 
combe's little exclamation they both stopped short. 
Andrew turned his heavily spectacled eyes in Dun- 
combe's direction, but it was obvious that he saw 

" You here, Andrew ! " 

« Yes ! Why not ? " 

The tone was curt, almost discourteous. Duncombe 
understood at once. 

" Let us sit down somewhere, and talk for a few min- 
utes," he said. " I did not expect you. You should have 
let me know that you were coming." 

Andrew laughed a little bitterly. 

" I scarcely see why," he said. " To tell you the 
truth, I see no advantage to either of us in any inter- 

Duncombe took him by the arm and led him towards 
the smokiQg-room. 

" Andrew," he said, " perhaps I have behaved badly 
— at least from your point of view, but remember that 
I warned you. Let us sit down here. Who is your 



" Never mind," Andrew answered. " You can say what 
you have to before him. He is in my confidence." 

Duncombe glanced around. The man had taken the 
chair next to them, and was evidently prepared to listen 
to all that was said. His clothes and bearing, and 
quiet, unobtrusive manners, all seemed to suggest 
truthfully enough his possible identity — an English 
detective from an advertised office. Duncombe smiled 
as he realized the almost pitiful inadequacy of such 

" Come, Andrew," he said, turning to his friend, " you 
have a small grievance against me, and you think you 
have a great one." 

" A small grievance ! " Andrew murmured softly. 
" Thank you, Duncombe." 

" Go on, then. State it ! " Duncombe declared. " Let 
me hear what is in your mind." 

Andrew raised his brows slowly. Twice he seemed 
to speak, but at the last moment remained silent. He 
was obviously struggling to control himself. 

" There is this in my mind against you, Duncombe," 
he said finally. " I sent for you as a friend. You ac- 
cepted a charge from me — as my friend. And you 
betrayed me." 

Duncombe shook his head. 

" Listen, Andrew," he said. " I want to remind you 
again of what I said just now. I warned you ! No, 
don't interrupt. It may have sounded like nonsense to 
you. I meant every word I said. I honestly tried to 
make you understand. I came here ; I risked many 
things. I failed 1 I returned to England. Up till 
then you had nothing to complain of. Then, Heaven 
knows why, but the very girl whom I had gone to 


Paris to seek came to Eunton in the guise at least of 
an adventuress." 

Andrew lifted his head quickly. 

" You admit it at last, then ? " he cried. 

" Yes, I admit it now," Buncombe agreed. 

" You lied to me there — to me who had no eyes, who 
trusted you. "\Miat was that but betrayal, rank, inex- 
cusable betrayal I " 

" Listen, Andrew," Buncombe said. " She told me 
that she was not Phyllis Poynton. It was enough for 
me. I disregarded my convictions. Her word was my 
law. She said that she was not Phyllis Poynton, and 
to me she never was Phyllis Poynton. She was afraid 
of you, and I helped her to avoid you. I admit it 1 It 
is the extent of my failing in our friendship, and you 
were warned." 

« And now ? " 

" I am here now," Buncombe said a little sadly, " be- 
cause I love her, and because I cannot keep away. But 
she will not see me, and I am no nearer solving the 
mystery than ever. On the contrary, I know that I am 
in danger here. It is possible that I may be driven to 
leave Paris to-night." 

" You know where she is now ? " 


Andrew leaned suddenly over, and his grip was on 
Buncombe's shoulder like a vise. 

" Then, by God, you shall tell me ! " he said fiercely. 
" Bon't you know, man, that Guy has been found iu the 
Seine, robbed and drugged, and murdered without a 
doubt ? Bo you want me to wait whilst something of 
the same sort happens to her ? You shall tell me where 
she is. Buncombe. I say that you shall tell me ! " 


Duncombe hesitated. 

" You can do no more than I have done," he 

" Then at least I will do as much," Andrew answered. 
" I am her oldest friend, and I have claims upon her 
which you never could have. Now that she is in this 
terrible trouble my place is by her side. I " 

" One moment, Andrew," Duncombe interrupted. " Are 
you sure that it was Guy Poynton who was found in the 
Seine ? The height was given as five feet nine, and Guy 
Poynton was over six feet." 

" You should read the papers," Andrew answered 
shortly. "He was identified by his sister." 

" The papers said so," Duncombe answered hesitat- 
ingly ; " but " 

" Look here," Andrew interrupted, " I have had enough 
of this playing with facts. You have grown too complex 
about this business altogether, Duncombe. Give me 
Phyllis Poynton's address." 

" You shall have it," Duncombe answered, taking a 
leaf from his pocketbook and writing. " I don't think 
that it will be any good to you. I think that it is more 
likely to lead you into trouble. Miss Poynton is with 
the Marquis and Marquise de St. Ethol. They are of 
the first nobility in France. Their position as people 
of honor and circumstance appears undoubted. But 
nevertheless, if you are allowed to see her I shall be 

The hall-porter approached them, hat in hand. 

" A lady to see Monsieur," he announced to Andrew. 

Andrew rose and took his companion's arm. He 
scarcely glanced again towards Duncombe, who followed 
them out of the room. And there in the hall awaiting 

"*Vou are on the brink of making an idiot of yourself,' 
Duncombe answered." 

iPa£:e 229 


them was the young lady from Viemia, quietly dressed 
in black, but unmistakable with her pretty hair and 
perfumes. Buncombe watched them shake hands and 
move away before he could recover sufficiently from his 
first fit of surprise to intervene. Then a realization of 
what had happened rushed in upon him. They, too, 
then, had been to the Caf^ Montmartre, with their 
obvious Anglicisms, their clumsy inquiries — to make 
of themselves without doubt the jest of that little nest 
of intriguers, and afterwards their tool. Buncombe 
thought of the fruits of his own inquiries there, and 
shivered. He hurried after the little party, who were 
apparently on their way to the caf^. 

" Andrew," he said, grasping him by the arm, " I must 
speak with you alone — at once." 

" I see no object in any further discussion between 
us," Andrew said calmly. 

" Bon't be a fool ! " Buncombe answered. " That 
woman you are with is a spy. If you have anything 
to do with her you are injuring Phyllis Poynton. She 
is not here to give you information. She is at work for 
her own ends." 

" You are becoming more communicative, my friend," 
Andrew said, with something which was almost a 
sneer. "You did not talk so freely a few minutes 
back. It seems as though we were on the eve of a 

" You are on the brink of making an idiot of your- 
self," Buncombe answered quickly. " You were mad 
to bring that blundering English detective over here. 
What the French police cannot or do not choose to dis- 
cover, do you suppose that they would allow an English- 
man to find out — a stranger to Paris, and with an accent 


like that ? If I cannot keep you from folly by any 
other means I must break my word to others. Come 
back into the smoking-room with me, and I will teU 
you why you are mad to have anything to do with that 

"Thank you," Andrew answered, "I think not. I 
have confidence in Mr. Lloyd, my friend here, and I have 
none in you." 


" I speak as I feel 1 " 

"Leave me out of the question. It is Phyllis 
Poynton you will harm. I see that your friend is 
listening, and Mademoiselle is impatient. Make your 
excuses for ten minutes, Andrew. You will never 
regret it." 

The detective, who had evidently overheard every- 
thing, stepped back to them. 

" You will excuse my interfering, sir," he said, " but 
if this case is to remain in my hands at all it is 
necessary for me to hear all that Sir George Buncombe 
has to say. The young lady will wait for a moment. 
This case is difficult enough as it is, what with the 
jealousy of the French police, who naturally don't 
want us to find out what they can't. If Sir George 
Buncombe has any information to give now," the 
man added with emphasis, "which he withheld a few 
minutes ago, I think that I ought to hear it from his 
own lips." 

"I agree entirely with what Mr. Lloyd has said," 
Andrew declared. 

Buncombe shrugged his shoulders. He looked around 
him cautiously, but they were in a corner of the entresol, 
and no one was within hearing distance. 


" Very well," he said. " To save you from danger, and 
Miss Poynton from further trouble, I am going to break 
a confidence which has been reposed in me, and to 
give you the benefit of my own surmises. In the first 
place, Mr. Lloyd is mistaken in supposing that the 
French police have been in the least puzzled by this 
double disappearance. On the contrary, they are per- 
fectly well aware of all the facts of the case, and could 
have produced Miss Poynton or her brother at any 
moment. They are working not for us, but against 

" Indeed ! " Mr. Lloyd said in a tone of disbelief. 
" And their object ? " 

" Here is as much of the truth as I dare tell you," 
Buncombe said. " Guy Poynton whilst on the Conti- 
nent became the chance possessor of an important State 
secret. He was followed to France by spies from that 
country — we will call it Germany — and the young 
lady who awaits you so impatiently is, if not one of 
them, at least one of their friends. At the Caf^ Mont- 
martre he gave his secret away to people who are in 
some measure allied with the secret service police of 
France. He was kidnapped by them, and induced to 
remain hidden by a trick. Meanwhile diplomacy makes 
use of his information, and foreign spies look for him in 
vain. His sister, when she came to search for him, was 
simply an inconvenience which these people had not 
contemplated. She was worked upon by fears concern- 
ing her brother's safety to go into hiding. Both have 
been well cared for, and the report of Guy's death is, I 
firmly believe, nothing but an attempt to lull the anxie- 
ties of the spies who are searching for him. This young 
woman here may be able to tell you into whose hands 


he has fallen, but you may take my word for it that 
she is in greater need of information than you are, and 
that she is an exceedingly dangerous person for you to 
discuss the Poyntons with. There are the crude facts. 
I have only known them a few hours myself, and there 
is a good deal which I cannot explain. But this I 
honestly and firmly believe. Neither you nor I nor Mr. 
Lloyd here can do the slightest good by interfering in 
this matter. For myself, I am leaving for England 

Buncombe, like most honest men, expected to be be- 
lieved. If he had entertained the slightest doubt about 
it he would not have dared to open his mouth. The 
silence that followed he could understand. No doubt 
they were as amazed as he had been. But it was a dif- 
ferent thing when he saw the expression on Andrew's 
face as he turned to his companion. 

" What do you think of this, Lloyd ? " he asked. 

" I am afraid, sir," the man answered, " that some of 
the clever ones have been imposing upon Sir George. It 
generally turns out so when amateurs tackle a job like 

Duncombe looked at him in astonishment. 

" Do you mean to say that you don't believe me ? " he 

" I would n't put it like that, sir," the man answered 
with a deprecating smile. "I think you have been 
misled by those who did not wish you to discover the 

Duncombe turned sharply on his heeL 

" And you, Andrew ? " 

" I wish to do you justice," Andrew answered coldly, 
" and I am willing to believe that you have faith your- 


self in the extraordinary story you have just told us. 
But frankly I think that you have been too credulous." 

Duncombe lost his temper. He turned on his heel, 
and walked back into the hotel. 

" You can go to the devil your own way I " he 



SPENCEK tried to rise from the sofa, but the effort 
was too much for him. Pale and thin, with black 
lines under his eyes, and bloodless lips, he seemed 
scarcely more than the wreck of his former self. 

His \isitor laid his stick and hat upon the table. 
Then he bowed once more to Spencer, and stood looking 
at him, leaning slightly against the table. 

"I am permitted," he asked gently, "to introduce 

" Quite unnecessary ! " Spencer answered. 

The Baron shrugged his shoulders. 

" You know me ? " he asked. 

The shadow of a smile flitted across Spencer's face. 

" By many names, Monsieur Louis," he answered. 

His visitor smiled. Debonair in dress and deport- 
ment, there seemed nothing to inspire alarm in the air of 
gentle concern with which he regarded the man whom 
he had come to visit. Yet Spencer cursed the languor 
which had kept him from recovering the revolver which 
an hour or more before had slipped from underneath his 

"It saves trouble," Monsieur Louis said. "I come 
to you, Monsieur Spencer, as a friend." 

" You alarm me," Spencer murmured. 

Monsieur Louis shrugged his shoulders. 



"You are pleased to be witty," he answered. "But 
indeed I am no such terrible person. It is permitted 
that I smoke?" 

" Certainly," Spencer answered. " If you care for 
wine or liqueurs pray ring for my servant. I can 
assure you that it is not by my own will that you find 
me so indifferent a host." 

" I thank you," Monsieur Louis answered. " I think 
that we will not ring the bell. It would be a pity to 
disturb an interview to which I have looked forward 
with so much pleasure." 

" L affaire Poynton ? " Spencer suggested. 

" Precisely 1 " 

** You have perhaps come to complete the little affair 
in which so far you have succeeded so admirably ? " 

"Pray do not suggest such a thing," Monsieur Louis 
answered deprecatingly. "For one thing I should not 
personally run the risk. And for another have I not 
already assured you that I come as a friend ? " 

" It was then," Spencer answered, " that I began to 
be frightened." 

Monsieur Louis smiled. He drew a gold cigarette 
case from his pocket, and calmly lit a cigarette. 

" Since you permit, uion ami" he said. " Good ! I 
speak better when I smoke. You are not so ill, I see, 
but that you retain that charming sense of humor your 
readers have learnt so well how to appreciate." 

"The dose was scarcely strong enough," Spencer an- 
swered. " Or perhaps by good fortune I stumbled upon 
the proper antidote." 

" I see that you like plain speaking," Monsieur Louis 
continued with a gentle smile. " Permit me to assure 
you then that the dose was quite as strong as we wished. 


Extremes are sometimes necessary, but we avoid them 
whenever possible." 

" I wonder where it happened," Spencer said reflec- 
tively. "I have been on my guard all the time. I 
have watched my wine and coffee at the cafds, and 
I have eaten only in the restaurants that I know." 

Monsieur Louis did not seem to think the matter 

"It was bound to happen," he said. "If you had 
been like your friends — the English baronet and the 
last two, who are even more amusing — perhaps it would 
not have been necessary. But you understand — you 
were beginning to discover things." 

" Yes," Spencer admitted. " I was beginning to get 

" Exactly ! We were forced to act. I can assure you. 
Monsieur Spencer, that it was with reluctance. The 
others of whom I have spoken — Sir George Buncombe, 
Monsieur Pelham, and his toy detective — forgive me 
that I smile — walk all the time in the palm of our 
hand. But they remain unharmed. If by any chance 
they should blunder into the knowledge of things which 
might cause us annoyance, why, then — there would be 
more invalids in Paris. Indeed, Monsieur, we do not 
seek to abuse our power. My errand to you to-day is 
one of mercy." 

" You make me ashamed," Spencer said, with a 
sarcasm which he took no pains to conceal, "of my 
unworthy suspicions. To proceed." 

"You have sent for Sir George Buncombe to come 
and see you ! " 

Spencer was silent for a moment. His own servant 
unfaithful ? It was not possible. 



"Even you," the Baron continued, "have not yet 
solved the mystery of Vaffaire Poynton. But you 
know more than Sir George. Let me recommend that 
you do not share your knowledge with him." 

"Why not?" 

"If you do Sir George will at once share your 

" I begin to understand," Spencer said. 

" How otherwise ? Send Sir George home. You see 
the delicacy of our position. It is not so much that we 
fear Sir George Duncombe's interference, but he again is 
followed and watched over by our enemies, who would 
easily possess themselves of any information which he 
might gain." 

Spencer nodded. 

" It is good reasoning," he admitted. 

" Listen," Monsieur Louis continued. " I speak now 
on behalf of my friends. You know whom I mean. 
You have solved the mystery of our existence. We are 
omnipotent. The police and the secret service police 
and the Government itself are with us. We have li- 
cense throughout the city. We may do what others 
may not. For us there is no crime. I kill you now 
perhaps. The police arrive. I am before the Commis- 
sioner. I give him the sign — it is Vaffaire Poynton, 
I go free ! It is a certain thing." 

" Granted ! " Spencer said. " Proceed with your killing, 
or your argument." 

" With the latter, if you please," Monsieur Louis an- 
swered. "I do not choose to kill. L' affaire Poyntouy 
then. Harm is not meant to either of these young 
people. That I assure you upon my honor. In three 


weeks, or say a month, we have finished. They may 
return to their homes if they will. We have no further 
interest in them. For those three weeks you must re- 
main as you are — you, and if you have influence over 
him, Sir George Buncombe. The other two fools we 
have no care for. If they blundered into knowledge 
— well, they must pay. They are not our concern, 
yours and mine. For you, I bring you an offer, Mon- 
sieur Spencer." 

" Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes ! " Spencer murmured. 

Monsieur Louis smiled. 

" My gift," he answered, " will not terrify you. You 
are a journalist. I offer to make the fortune of your 
paper. You shall be the first to announce an affair 
of the greatest international importance since the war 
between Ptussia and Japan was declared. No, I will 
go further than that. It is the greatest event since 

" L' affaire Poynton strikes so deep?" Spencer re- 

"So deep," the Baron answered. ''It is the fools 
who grope their way into great places. So did the boy 
Poynton. You, my friend, shall be the one brilliant 
exception. You shall make yourself the king of journal- 
ists, and you shall be quoted down the century as hav- 
ing achieved the greatest journalistic feat of modern 

Spencer turned his drawn, haggard face towards his 
visitor. A slight flush of color stained his cheek. 

" You fascinate me," he said slowly. " I admit it. 
You have found the weak spot in my armor. Proceed ! 
For whom do you speak ? " 

Monsieur Louis abandoned his somewhat lounging 



attitude. He stood by Spencer's side, and, leaning 
down, whispered in his ear. Spencer's eyes grew 

"Monsieur Louis," he said, "you play at a great 

The Baron shrugged his shoulders. 

" Me ! " he answered. " I am but a pawn. I do what 
I am told." 

" To return for a moment to V affaire Poynton" 
Spencer said. " I am in the humor to trust you. Have 
I then your assurance that the boy and girl do not 

"Upon my own honor and the honor of the com- 
pany to whom I belong," he answered with some show 
of dignity. "It is a pledge which I have never yet 

"I am a bribed man," Spencer answered. 
. Monsieur Louis threw away his second cigarette. He 
cast a look almost of admiration upon the man who still 
lay stretched upon the couch. 

" You are the only Englishman I ever met. Monsieur 
Spencer," he said, " who was not pig-headed. You have 
the tenacity of your countrymen, but you have the gen- 
ius to pick out the right thread from the tangle, to know 
truth when you meet it, even in unlikely places. I doff 
my hat to you, Monsieur Spencer. If you permit I will 
send my own physician to you. You will be yourself in 
a week." 

" You know the antidote ? " Spencer remarked grimly. 

" Naturally ! Accidents will happen. You wish that 
I should send him ? " 

" Without doubt," Spencer answered. " I am weary of 
this couch." 


" You shall leave it in a week," Monsieur promised, as 
he left the room. 

Spencer closed his eyes. Already he felt coming on 
the daily headache, which, with the terrible weakness, 
was a part of his symptoms. But there was no rest for 
him yet. Monsieur Louis had scarcely been gone five 
minutes when Duncombe arrived. 

Buncombe had had no word of his friend's illness. 
He stood over his couch in shocked surprise. 

" My dear fellow," he exclaimed. " I had no idea that 
you were ill. This is why I have not heard from you, 

Spencer smiled as he held out his hand, and Dun- 
combe, who seemed to catch some meaning in the up- 
raised eyebrows of his friend, was shocked. 

" You mean ? " he exclaimed. 

Spencer nodded. 

" V affaire Poynton'' he said gently, " A very subtle 
dose of poison indeed, my friend. I shall not die, but I 
have had my little lesson. Here the individual has little 
chance. We fight against forces that are too many for 
us. I told you so at the start." 

** Yet I," Duncombe answered, "have not suffered." 

" My friend," Spencer answered, " it is because I am 
the more dangerous." 

"You have discovered something?" Duncombe ex- 

"I came near discovering a great deal," Spencer 
answered. " Perhaps it would have been better for 
my system if I had discovered a little less. As it is 
I have finished with Vaffaire Poynton for the present. 
You see how very nearly Vaffaire Poynton finished 


"It is not like you," Duncombe said thoughtfully, 
"to give anything up." 

" We come face to face sometimes with unique expe- 
riences, which destroy precedent," Spencer answered. 
"This is one of them." 

"And what," Duncombe asked, "do you advise me 
to do?" 

" Always the same advice," Spencer answered. " Leave 
Paris to-day. Go straight back to Norfolk, read the 
newspapers, and await events." 

"Well, I think that I shall do so," Duncombe an- 
swered slowly. " I have found out where Miss Poynton 
is, but she will not see me. I have made an enemy of 
my dearest friend, and I have, at any rate, interrupted 
your career and endangered your life. Yes, I will go 
back home." 

"You may yet save your friend some — inconven- 
ience," Spencer suggested. " Try to persuade him to go 
back with you." 

"He will not listen to me," Duncombe answered. 
"He has brought an English detective with him, and 
he is as obstinate as a mule. For myself I leave at 
nine o'clock." 

"You are well advised, exceedingly well advised," 
Spencer said. " Mind I do not take the responsibility 
of sending you away without serious reasons. I honestly 
believe that Miss Poynton is safe, whatever may have 
happened to her brother, and I believe that you will 
serve her best by your temporary absence." 

Duncombe stood for a moment wrapped in thought. 
The last few months had aged him strangely. The 
strenuous days and nights of anxious thought had left 
their mark in deep lines upon his face. He looked 



out of the window of Spencer's room, and his eyes saw 
little of the busy street below. He was alone once 
more with this strange, terrified girl upon the hillside, 
with the wind in their faces, and makiug wild havoc 
in her hair. He was with her in different moods in the 
little room behind his library, when the natural joy 
of her young life had for the moment reasserted itself. 
He was with her at their parting. He saw half the 
fearful regret with which she had left his care and 
accepted the intervention of the Marquise. Stirring 
times these had been for a man of his quiet temper- 
ament, whom matters of sentiment and romance had 
passed lightly by, and whose passions had never before 
been touched by the finger of fire. And now he was 
going back to an empty life — a life at least empty of 
joy, save the hope of seeing her again. For good or for 
evil, the great thing had found its way into his life. 
His days of calm animal enjoyment were over. Sorrow 
or joy was to be his. He had passed into the shadows 
of the complex life. 

He remembered where he was at last, and turned to 

" About yourself, Spencer," he said. " Have you seen 
a doctor?" 

" Yes. I am not seriously ill," his friend answered. 
"The worst is over now. And, Buncombe, it's hard 
for you to go, I know — but look here, I believe that 
you will be back in a month, and taking Miss Poynton 
to lunch chez Eitz. I never felt so sure of it as I do 

Buncombe remembered the answer to his note, and 
found it hard to share his friend's cheerfulness. 



DUNCOMBE laid down his cue and strolled towards 
the sideboard, where his guest was already mixing 
himself a whisky and soda. 

" By the by, Eunton," he said, " have you seen any- 
thing of our friend Von Eothe since that little affair at 
your place ? " 

Lord Eunton shook his head. 

" Not once," he answered. " He behaved very decently 
about it on the whole; treated it quite lightly — but 
he would n't let me go near the police. It was a long 
way the most unpleasant thing that ever happened in 
my house." 

"Never any further light upon it, I suppose?" 
Buncombe asked. 

Lord Eunton shook his head. 

" None. Of course we could have traced them both 
without a doubt if we had put it in the hands of the 
police, but Von Eothe wouldn't hear of it. He tried 
to treat it lightly, but I know that he was very much 

"Do you yourself believe," Buncombe asked, "that 
it was a political affair or an ordinary robbery?'* 

"I think that it was the former," Lord Eunton 
answered. "Those people were not common adven- 
turers. By the by, George, have you got over your 
little weakness yet ? " he added with a smile. 


Duncombe shrugged his shoulders. 

" Nearly made a fool of myself, did n't I ? " he re- 
marked, with a levity which did not sound altogether 

" She was an uncommonly fascinating young woman," 
Lord Kunton said, " but she did n't seem to me very old 
at the game. She was clever enough to fool Von Rothe, 
though. He admits that he told her that he was expect- 
ing a special messenger from Berlin." 

Duncombe seemed to have had enough of the subject. 
He got up and filled his pipe. 

" Is Jack coming down this week ? " he asked. 

" No ! He wired this morning that he can't get away. 
Sefton is n't coming, either. Between ourselves, George, 
som.ething seems to be going on at the Foreign Office 
which I don't understand." 

*' What do you mean ? " Duncombe asked. " There has 
been no hint at any sort of trouble in the papers." 

" That 's just what I don't understand," Lord Runton 
continued. " It is certain that there is an extraordinary 
amount of activity at Portsmouth and Woolwich, but 
even the little halfpenny sensational papers make no 
more than a passing allusion to it. Then look at the 
movements of our fleet. The whole of the Mediter- 
ranean Fleet is at Gibraltar, and the Channel Squadron 
is moving up the North Sea as though to join the Home 
Division. All these movements are quite unusual." 

" What do you make of them then ? " Duncombe 

"I scarcely know," Lord Runton answered. "But 
I can tell you this. There have been three Cabinet 
Councils this week, and there is a curious air of appre- 
hension in official circles in town, as though something 


were about to happen. The service clubs are almost 
deserted, and I know for a fact that all leave in the 
navy has been suspended. What I don't understand 
is the silence everywhere. It looks to me as though 
there were really going to be trouble. The Baltic Fleet 
sailed this morning, you know." 

Buncombe nodded. 

" But," he said, " even if they were ill disposed to us, 
as no doubt Russia is just now, what could they do ? 
One squadron of our fleet could send them to the 

" No doubt," Lord Runton answered. " But supposing 
they found an ally ? " 

"France will never go to war with us for Russia's 
benefit," Buncombe declared. 

"Granted," Lord Runton answered, "but have you 
watched Germany's attitude lately ? " 

" I can't say that I have," Buncombe admitted, 
" but I should never look upon Germany as a war- 
seeking nation." 

" No, I dare say not," Lord Runton answered. " Nor 
would a great many other people. Every one is will- 
ing to admit that she would like our Colonies, but 
no one will believe that she has the courage to strike 
a blow for them. I will tell you what I believe, 
Buncombe. I believe that no Great Power has ever 
before been in so dangerous a position as we are in 

Buncombe sat up in his chair. The weariness 
passed from his face, and he was distinctly interested. 
Lord Runton, without being an ardent politician, was 
a man of common-sense, and was closely connected 
with more than one member of the Cabinet. 


" Are you serious, Eunton ? " he asked. 

" Absolutely ! Eemember, I was in Berlin for two 
years, and I had many opportunities of gaining an 
insight into affairs there. What I can see coming 
now I have ex^^ected for years. There are two great 
factors which make for war. One is the character of 
the Emperor himself, and the other the inevitable rot, 
which must creep like a disease into a great army 
kept always upon a war footing, through a decade or 
more of inactivity. The Emperor is shrewd enough 
to see this. Nothing can possibly exist at its best 
which is not used for the purpose to which it owes its 
existence. That is why we have this flood of literature 
just now telling us of the gross abuses and general 
rottenness of the German army. Another five years of 
idleness, and Germany's position as the first military 
nation will have passed away. Like every other great 
power, it is rusting for want of use. The Emperor 
knows this." 

Buncombe for many reasons was fascinated by 
his friend's quiet words. Apart from their obvious 
plausibility, they brought with them many startling 
suggestions. Had chance, he wondered, really made 
Phyllis Poynton and her brother pawns in the great 
game ? He felt himself stirred to a rare emotion by 
the flood of possibilities which swept in suddenly upon 
him. Lord Eunton noted with surprise the signs of 
growing excitement in his listener. 

" Go on, Eunton. Anything else ? " 

Lord Eimton helped himself to a cigarette, and 
leaned across to light it. 

" Of course," he continued, " I know that there are 
a great many people who firmly believe that for com- 


mercial reasons Germany would never seek a quarrel 
with us. I will agree with them so far as to say 
that I do not believe that a war with England would 
be popular amongst the bourgeois of Germany. On 
the other hand, they would be quite powerless to 
prevent it. The Emperor and his ministers have the 
affair in their own hands. A slight break in our 
diplomatic relations, some trifle seized hold of by the 
Press and magnified at once into an insult, and the war 
torch is kindled. To-day war does not come about by 
the slowly growing desire of nations. The threads of 
fate are in the hands of a few diplomatists at Berlin 
and London — a turn of the wrist, and there is tension 
which a breath can turn either way. You ask me why 
the Emperor should choose England for attack. There 
are many reasons: first, because England alone could 
repay him for the struggle; secondly, because he is 
intensely and miserably jealous of our own King, who 
has avoided all his own hot-headed errors, and has 
yet played a great and individual part in the world's 
affairs ; thirdly, because England is most easily at- 
tacked. I could give you other reasons if you wanted 

'' Quite enough," Buncombe answered. " What do 
you suppose would be the casus belli ? " 

" The progress of the Russian fleet through English 
waters," Lord Runton answered promptly. "Russia's 
interest in such a misunderstanding would be, of course, 
immense. She has only to fire on an English ship, by 
mistake of course, and the whole fat would be in the 
fire. England probably would insist upon the squadron 
being detained, Germany would protest against any such 


action. We might very well be at war with Russia and 
Germany within ten days. Eussia would immediately 
either make terms with Japan, or abandon any active 
operations in Manchuria and move upon India. Ger- 
many would come for us." 

" Is this all purely imagination ? " Buncombe asked, 
"or have you anything to go on?" 

" So far as I am concerned," Lord Eunton said slowly, 
"I, of course, know nothing. But I have a strong 
idea that the Government have at least a suspicion of 
some secret understanding between Eussia and Ger- 
many. Their preparations seem almost to suggest it. 
Of course we outsiders can only guess, after all, at 
what is going on, but it seems to me that there is 
a chance to-day for our Government to achieve a diplo- 
matic coupr 

" In what direction ? " 

" An alliance with France. Mind, I am afraid that 
there are insurmountable obstacles, but if it were pos- 
sible it would be checkmate to our friend the Emperor, 
and he would have nothing left but to climb down. 
The trouble is that in the absence of any definite proof 
of an understanding between Eussia and Germany, 
France could not break away from her alliance with 
the former. Our present arrangement would ensure, 
I believe, a benevolent neutrality, but an alliance, if 
only it could be compassed, would be the greatest 
diplomatic triumph of our days. Hullo ! Visitors 
at this hour. Was n't that your front-door bell, 
Duncombe ? " 

" It sounded like it," Duncombe answered. " Perhaps 
it is your man." 


" Like his cheek, if it is ! " Lord Eunton answered, 
rising to his feet and strolling towards the sideboard. 
"I told him I would telephone round to the stables 
when I was ready. I suppose it is rather late, though 
I sha'n't apologize for keeping you up." 

" I hope you won't," Duncombe answered. " I have 
never been more interested in my life — for many 
reasons. Don't bother about your man. Groves will 
see to him. Help yourself to another whisky and soda, 
and come and sit down." 

There was a knock at the door, and the butler 

" There are three gentlemen outside, sir, who wish 
to see you," he announced to Duncombe. " They will 
not give their names, but they say that their business 
is important, or they would not have troubled you so 

Duncombe glanced at the clock. It was past mid- 

" Three gentlemen," he repeated, " at this time of 
night. But where on earth have they come from. 

" They did not say, sir," the man answered. " One 
of them I should judge to be a foreigner. They have 
a motor car outside." 

Lord Eunton held out his hand. 

" Well, it 's time I was off, anyhow," he remarked. 
"Come over and have lunch to-morrow. Don't bother 
about me. I '11 stroll round to the stables and start from 
there. Good night." 

Duncombe hesitated. He was on the point of ask- 
ing his friend to stay, but before he could make up his 
mind Eunton had lit a cigarette and strolled away. 


"You can show the gentlemen in here, Groves," 
Buncombe said. 

" Very good, sir." 

The man disappeared. Duncombe, after a moment's 
hesitation, crossed the room, and opening an oak cup- 
board, slipped a small revolver into his pocket. 



ONE of his three visitors Duncombe recognized im- 
mediately. It was Monsieur Louis. Of the other 
two one was a Frenchman, a somewhat sombre-looking 
person, in a black beard and gold-rimmed eyeglasses, 
the other as unmistakably an Englishman of the lower 
middle class. His broad shoulders and somewhat stiff 
bearing seemed to suggest some sort of drill. Look- 
ing them over, Duncombe found himself instinctively 
wondering whether the personal strength of these two, 
which was obvious, might become a factor in the coming 

The Baron naturally was spokesman. He bowed very 
gravely to Duncombe, and did not offer his hand. 

" I must apologize, Sir George," he said, "-for disturb- 
ing you at such an inopportune hour. Our business, 
however, made it necessary for us to reach you with as 
little delay as possible." 

" Perhaps you will be good enough to explain," Dun- 
combe answered, " what that business is." 

The Baron raised his hands with a little protesting 

"I regret to tell you. Sir George," he announced, 
"that it is of a most unpleasant nature. I could 
wish that its execution had fallen into other hands. 
My companions are Monsieur Eidalle, of the French 
detective service, and our other friend here, whom I 


do not know, is a constable from the Xorwich Police 
Court. My own connections with the police service 
of my country you have already, without doubt, 

" Go on," Buncombe said. 

"I regret to say," Monsieur Louis continued, "that 
my friends here are in charge of a warrant for your 
arrest. You will find them possessed of all the legal 
documents, French and English. We shall have to ask 
you to come to Norwich with us to-night." 

" Arrest ! " Duncombe repeated. " On what charge ? " 

"An extremely serious one," the Baron answered 
gravely. "The charge of murder!" 

Duncombe stared at him in amazement. 

" Murder ! " he repeated. " What rubbish ! " 

" The murder of Mademoiselle de Mermillon in her 
lodging on the night of the seventh of June last," the 
Baron said gravely. "Please do not make any re- 
marks before these men. The evidence against you is 
already sufficiently strong." 

Duncombe laughed derisively. 

" WTiat sort of a puppet show is this ? " he exclaimed. 
" You know as well as any man living how that poor 
girl came to her end. This is a cover for something 
else, of course. What do you want of me ? Let 's get 
at it without wasting time." 

"What we want of you is, I am afraid, only too 
simple," the Baron answered, shrugging his shoulders. 
"We must ask you to accompany us at once to Nor- 
wich Castle. "You will have to appear before the 
magistrates in the morning, when they will sign the 
extradition warrant. Our friend here, Monsieur Kidalle, 
will then take charge of you. Perhaps you would like 


to look through the documents. You will find them all 
in perfect order." 

Duncombe mechanically glanced through the French 
and English papers which were spread out before him. 
They had certainly a most uncomfortable appearance of 
being genuine. He began to feel a little bewildered. 

" You mean to say that you have come here to arrest 
me on this charge ? That you want me to go away 
with you to-night ? " he asked. 

"It is not a matter of wanting you to come," the 
Baron answered coldly. " It is a matter of necessity." 

Duncombe moved towards the fireplace. 

" Will you allow me the privilege of a few moments' 
conversation with you in private ? " he said to the 
Baron. " Your companions will perhaps excuse you for 
a moment." 

The Baron followed without remark. They stood 
facing one another upon the hearthrug. Duncombe 
leaned one elbow upon the mantlepiece, and turned 
towards his companion. 

" Look here," he said, " those papers seem genuine 
enough, and if you insist upon it I will go with you to 
Norwich. I shall take care not to let you out of my 
sight, and if when we get there I find that this is any 
part of one of your confounded conspiracies you will 
find that the penalties for this sort of thing in England 
are pretty severe, However, no doubt you are well 
aware of that. The question is this. What do you 
really want from me ? " 

Monsieur Louis, who had lit a cigarette, withdrew 
it from his mouth and examined the lighted end for a 
moment in silence. 

" The documents," he said, " are genuine. You are 


arraigned in perfectly legal fashion. Upon the affi- 
davits there the magistrates must grant the extradition 
warrant without hesitation. We have nothing to fear 
in that direction." 

"The police," Buncombe remarked, "are perfectly 
aware of my innocence." 

Monsieur shrugged his shoulders. 

" The evidence," he said, " is remarkably convincing." 

"Police-concocted evidence," Buncombe remarked, 
"would necessarily be so. I admit that you hold a 
strong card against me. I don't believe, however, that 
you have gone to all this trouble without some ulterior 
motive. What is it ? What can I offer you in exchange 
for these documents ? " 

Monsieur Louis smiled. 

" You are a man of common-sense, Sir George," he 
said. "I will speak to you without reserve. It is 
possible that you might be able to offer the Govern- 
ment department of my country to which I am attached 
an inducement to interest themselves in your behalf. 
Mind, I am not sure. But if my information is correct 
there is certainly a possibility." 

"The Government department of your country to 
which you are attached," Buncombe repeated thought- 
fully. " Let me understand you. You mean the secret 
service police ? " 

Monsieur Louis glanced a little nervously over his 

" Never mind what I mean, Sir George," he said 
quickly. "There are things which we do not speak 
of openly. This much is sufficient. I represent a 
power which can influence and direct even the criminal 
courts of justice of France." 


" What bribe have I to offer you ? " Duncombe asked. 
" Information ? You know more than I do. I am 
afraid you have been misled." 

" I think not," Monsieur Louis said quickly. " I will 
tell you what we want. A paper was left in your 
charge by Miss Phyllis Poynton at the time she was 
visiting at Eunton Place." 

" What of it ? " Duncombe asked. 

The Frenchman's face was suddenly tense with ex- 
citement. He recovered himself almost at once, but his 
voice shook, and a new earnestness found its way into 
his manner. 

" Miss Poynton and her brother are with us," he said. 
" It is we who have been their benefactors. You know 
a good deal of their peculiar circumstances. A sudden 
need has arisen for the production of that paper within 
twenty-four hours. Give it to me now, and I will run 
the greatest risk I have ever run in my career. I will 
tear those warrants through." 

"Have you any authority from Miss Poynton?" 
Duncombe asked. 

"There was no time to procure it," Monsieur Louis 
explained. " Events march rapidly to-day. To be 
effective that paper must be in Paris to-morrow. The 
necessity for its production arose only a few hours 

"You ask me, then," Duncombe said slowly, "to 
hand over to you a paper which was placed in my 
charge by Miss Poynton?" 

"In effect — yes!" 

« I cannot do it ! " 

Monsieur Louis shrugged his shoulders. 

" I do not insist," he remarked. " I may be permitted 


to remind you, however, that I have offered a great 

" Perhaps ! " Duncombe answered quietly. 

Monsieur Louis turned to his assistants. 

" Sir George Duncombe will accompany us," he said. 
" I can give you ten minutes. Sir George," he added, " in 
case you care to change your clothes." 

" And supposing I refuse to come ? " Duncombe 

Monsieur Louis smiled. 

"You would scarcely be so foolish," he remarked. 
"In that case I should send the policeman here to 
the nearest station with the warrants and a demand 
for help. Our documents are in perfect order, and 
our case complete. You would scarcely be so foolish, 
I think, as to set yourself in direct opposition to the 
law ! " 

Duncombe was silent for several moments. Then he 
rang the bell. Monsieur Louis looked at him inquir- 
ingly, but before he could frame a question the butler 
was in the room. 

" Pack my things for a week, Groves," Duncombe 
ordered. " I am going away to-night." 

The man bowed arid withdrew. Monsieur Louis 
merely shrugged his shoulders. 

" A week ! " he remarked. " You will be fortunate if 
you ever see your home again. Come, Sir George, be 
reasonable ! I give you my word of honor that it is 
altogether to the interest of Miss Poynton that those 
papers be immediately produced. If she were here 
herself she would place them in my hands without a 
moment's hesitation." 

" Possibly J " Duncombe answered. " Suppositions, 


however, do not interest me. I undertook the charge of 
what she gave me, and I shall fulfil my trust." 

Monsieur Louis turned to the policeman. 

" Officer," he said, " this is Sir George Duncombe. Do 
your duty." 

The man stepped forward and laid his hand upon Sir 
George's shoulder. 

" Very sorry, sir," he said. " I am forced to arrest you 
on this warrant for the murder of Florence Mermillon 
on the night of the seventh of June. You will be 
brought before the magistrates at Norwich to-morrow." 

Duncombe waved his hand towards the sideboard. 

" If you gentlemen," he remarked, " would care for a 
little refreshment before you start ? " 

"It is against the rules, sir, thank you," the man 
answered. " I should be glad to get away as soon as 

Duncombe filled both his pockets with cigars and 
cigarettes. Then he turned towards the door. 

" I am quite ready," he said. 

They followed him out. There was a few minutes' 
delay waiting for Duncombe's bag. 

" Your address, Sir George ? " Groves inquired, as he 
brought it down. 

" A little doubtful," Duncombe answered. " I will 

"In front, please, Sir George," Monsieur Louis in- 

So they drove off, Duncombe in the front seat, the 
other three behind. The car gathered speed rapidly. In 
less than an hour they were half-way to Norwich. Then 
suddenly the driver took a sharp corner and turned down 
a long desolate lane. 



" You 're off the main road," Duncombe explained. 
" You should have kept straight on for Norwich." 

The man took no notice. He even increased his 
speed. Duncombe was in the act of turning round when 
he felt the sudden swish of a wet cloth upon his face. 
He tried to break away, but he was held from behind as 
in a vise. Then his head fell back, and he remembered 
no more. 



AT three o'clock in the morning Groves, in a dis- 
J\ carded di-essing-gown of his master's, opened the 
front door and peered cautiously out into the darkness. 
Monsieur Louis, who was standing upon the door-step, 
pushed past him into the hall. 

" Your master has sent me back to fetch some papers," 
he announced, displaying a bunch of keys. " I am sorry 
to disturb you like this, but the matter is important. 
Please bring me a cup of coffee into the library in 
half an hour." 

Groves, who was sorely perplexed, stood with his back 
to the door which Monsieur Louis had approached. 

" Eeally, sir," he answered, " I scarcely know what to 
say. I am afraid that I cannot allow you to interfere 
with any of my master's property in his absence." 

Monsieur Louis held out the keys. 

" Quite right 1 " he said. " It is an awkward situation, 
of course. Your master did not tell you the reason of 
his sudden departure, I suppose ? " 

" Not a word, sir." 

" There can be no harm in telling you this much, at 
any rate," Monsieur Louis continued smoothly. " Your 
master, through no fault of his own, got mixed 
up in a very unpleasant affair in Paris, and he 
will have to appear in the courts there. I am his 
friend, and wish to do all that I can to help him. We 


have been talking the matter over, and I have strongly 
advised him to produce some papers which I think 
will help him materially. The police officer in whose 
charge he is would not allow him to return, so he handed 
me his keys and asked me to fetch them. I can 
assure you that I am your master's friend, and wish 
to do all that I can to help him. If he had not trusted 
me he would not have given me his keys, which no 
doubt you recognize." 

Groves reluctantly stood on one side. 

" I suppose I must let you in, sir," he said, " but I 
wish that the master had sent me a line." 

" We had neither pencil nor paper," Monsieur Louis 
said, " and the affair was urgent. I must be back 
in Norwich by eight o'clock." 

" I will prepare the coffee, sir," Groves said, turning 
away. " If you require more light the switches are 
behind the door." 

" Very good," Monsieur Louis said. " You need 
not have the slightest anxiety. I am here on your 
master's behalf." 

Groves hesitated, and looked for a moment curiously 
around the room. He seemed as though he had 
something else to say, but checked himself at the last 
moment and withdrew. Monsieur Louis drew a little 
breath of relief. 

He did not immediately proceed to work. He 
threw off his overcoat and lit a cigarette. His fingers 
were steady enough, but he was conscious of an 
unwonted sense of excitement. He was face to face 
with destiny. He had played before for great stakes, 
but never such as these. A single false step, an evil 
turn in the wheel of fortune, spelt death — and he was 

His hands shook, his teeth chattered." 

{Page 261 


afraid to die. He moved to the sideboard. Every- 
thing there was as they had left it. He poured out 
some brandy and drank it off. 

With fresh courage he moved to the safe, which 
stood in the corner of the room. It must be there, if 
anywhere, that this precious document lay. He tried 
his keys one by one. At last he found the right one. 
The gi'eat door swung slowly open. 

He was spared all anxiety. There, on the top of a 
pile of legal-looking documents, leases, title-deeds, and 
the like, was a long envelope, and across it in Dun- 
combe's sprawling writing these few words : — 

" Entrusted to me by Miss Poynton. — Sept. 4th." 

He gi'asped it in his fingers and tore open the enve- 
lope. As he read the single page of closely written 
writing his eyes seemed almost to protrude. He gave 
a little gasp. No wonder there were those who reck- 
oned this single page of manuscript worth a- gi-eat for- 
tune. Every sentence, every word told its own stor}\ 
It was a page of the world's history. 

Then a strange thing happened. Some part of him 
rebelled against the instinct which prompted him 
carefully to fold and place in his breast-pocket this 
wonderful find of his. His nerves seemed suddenly 
frozen in his body. There was a curious numb sen- 
sation at the back of his neck which forbade him to 
turn round. His hands shook, his teeth chattered. 
The sweat of death was upon his forehead and despair 
in his heart. He had heard nothing, seen nothing ; yet 
he knew that he was no longer alone. 

^\Tien at last he turned round he turned his whole 
body. The muscles of his neck were numbed still 
his knees shook, and his face was ghastly. Monsieur 


Louis of the Cafd Montmartre, brave of tongue and 
gallant of bearing, had suddenly collapsed. Monsieur 
Louis, the drug-sodden degenerate of a family whose 
nobles had made gay the scaffolds of the Place de la 
R^publique, cowered in his place. 

It was the worst upon which he looked with chat- 
tering teeth, but without surprise. The door of the 
inner room was open, and upon the threshold stood 
Toquet, small, dark, and saturnine — Toquet, with 
something which glittered in his hand, so that Mon- 
sieur Louis, already the prey of a diseased and ghastly 
imagination, felt the pain of the bullet in his heart. 
On an easy-chair by the fireside Henri de Ber- 
gillac was lounging, with a queer smile upon his 

"My friend," he said quietly, though the scorn 
which underlay his words seemed to bite the air, 
" you have solved for us a double problem : first, 
how to account for the absence of our host; and 
secondly, how to open that very formidable-looking 
safe. You will be so good as to place upon the table 
that document which you hold in your hands." 

For a single second Monsieur Louis hesitated. Some 
lingering vestige of a courage, purely hereditary, 
showed him in one lightning-like flash how at 
least he might carry with him to a swift grave some 
vestige of his ruined self-respect. A traitor to his old 
friends, he might keep faith with the new. He had 
time to destroy. Even the agonies of death might 
last long enough to complete the task. But the 
impulse was only momentary. He shuddered afresh 
at the thought that he might have yielded to it. He 
threw it upon the table. 


The Vicomte rose to his feet, glanced through the 
closely written page with something of the same ex- 
citement which had inspired its recent possessor, and 
carefully buttoned it up in his breast-pocket. Then 
he turned once more to the man who stood before them 
broken and trembling. 

" Louis," he said, " you are the first traitor whom 
our society has hatched. I look upon you with curi- 
osity as a thing I once called my friend. What im- 
becility prompted you to this ? " 

Monsieur Louis found nerve to shrug his shoulders. 

'' A million francs ! " he answered. 

" Heavens, but what folly ! " the Vicomte mur- 
mured. " Did we not all know that a German was in 
Paris who offered a million, or two million francs 
for the missing page of that treaty ? Do you think 
that he was not watched day and night ? Bah ! I 
have no patience to talk of this. What have you 
done with our host ? " 

" Arrested him for — Flossie ! He is in a ditch half- 
way to Norwich." 


« No ! Chloroformed." 

" How did you get here ? " 

" In an automobile from Lynn ! " 

« Good ! It waits for you ? " 

« Yes." 

" We will take it. My good friend here, Toquet, 
is familiar with the neighborhood. As Mr. Fielding, 
the American millionaire, you learned the excellence 
of these roads for quick travelling, did you not, mon 
ami ? So ! " 

** You leave me here ? " Monsieur Louis faltered. 


*' Ay, to rot if you will ! " the Vicomte answered with 
sudden harshness. 

" I will atone," Monsieur Louis faltered. " It was a 
single false step." 

De Bergillac looked down upon him with unspeakable 

" Atone ! Listen, Louis ! In this country you are 
safe. Crawl away into some hiding-place and make 
what you will of the rest of your days, but I will prom- 
ise you this. If ever you set your feet upon one inch 
of France you shall meet with your deserts. There are 
many things which those who play the great game must 
pardon, but there is one crime for which no atonement 
is possible, and you have committed it. You are a 
traitor ! " 

De Bergillac turned away. The effeminacy of his 
manner seemed to have disappeared under the strain 
of his extreme anger. It was his race, after all, which 
had asserted itself. And then the door was thrown 
suddenly open and a wild-looking figure confronted 

It was Buncombe, muddy from head to foot, pale 
and with a slight wound upon the temple, from which 
the blood had trickled down his face. He saw the 
open safe, and Monsieur Louis a pitiful figure, and 
he did not hesitate. He scarcely glanced at the 
others. He strode forward and seized the Baron by the 

"Give me back what you have stolen, you black- 
guard 1 " he exclaimed. 

Monsieur Louis was breathless. It was the young 
Vicomte who interposed. 

" Om* friend," he remarked suavely, " has not been 


successful in his little effort. The document he came 
to purloin is in my pocket, and here, Sir George, is my 
warrant for retaining possession of it." 

He held out a note which Buncombe took and read 
with a little sigh of relief. 

"Good!" he exclaimed. "You have the docu- 
ment ? " 

De Bergillac tapped his breast-pocket. 

" It is here," he said. 

Buncombe turned to Monsieur Louis. 

"My arrest, then," he remarked, "was part of the 
game ? " 

"Exactly!" De Bergillac answered. "This little 
document entrusted to your care by the young English 
lady was worth one million francs to the man who 
suborned our friend here. It was worth while — this 
little enterprise. The pity of it is that it has failed. 
Sir George, I go to Paris to-night. I offer you a safe 
conduct if you care to accompany me. L affaire Poyntoii 
does not exist any more." 

" Can you give me ten minutes to change my clothes ? " 
Buncombe asked eagerly. 

" No more," Be Bergillac answered. " I will get rid 
of our friend here." 

There was a knock at the door. Groves entered with 
coffee. At the sight of his master he nearly di'opped 
the tray. 

" It 's all right," Buncombe said, smiling. " We had 
a little spill, and I 've lost my bag. Pack me some more 
things quickly." 

" Very good, sit-," Groves answered, and withdrew 

Be Bergillac laid his hand upon Buncombe's arm. 


"There is only one thing, my friend," he said. "I 
trust that it is Mr. Guy Poynton who is your friend, 
and not his beautiful sister ? Eh ? I am answered ! 
The misfortune ! Never mind ! I will drink my cofi'ee 
to les beaux yeux des autres!" 



THEEE men were the sole occupants of the great 
room whose windows looked out upon the 

The table around which they were seated was strewn 
with papers and maps. The door of the room was 
locked, and a sentry stood outside in the passage. The 
three men were busy making history. 

The man who occupied the seat at the head of the 
table was the Monsieur Grisson to whom Guy Poynton, 
at the instigation of the Due de Bergillac, had told his 
story. It was he who was spokesman. 

" The situation," he said, " is one which bristles with 
difficulties. We will assume for a moment the truth 
of what we have certainly reasonable ground to believe. 
Eussia has shown every sign of disappointment with us 
for our general attitude during the war. Our under- 
standing with England has provoked a vigorous though 
unofficial protest from her representatives here. Since 
then our relations have become to a certain extent 
strained. Germany, ever on the look-out for compli- 
cations which might lead to her own advantage, steps 
in. Her attitude towards Eussia is changed to one 
of open and profound sympathy. Eussia, in her des- 
perate straits, rises like a starvmg fish to a fat fly. 
Here it is that our secret service steps in." 


" Our secret service — and her allies," one of the 
other men murmured. 

" Exactly ! We pass now to the consideration of 
facts which need one thing only to justify our course 
of action. Evidence is brought to us that a secret 
meeting took place between the Czar of Kussia and 
the Emperor of Germany. Erom all the information 
which we have collected that meeting was possible. 
I personally believe that it took place. A treaty is 
said to have been drawn up between them, having for 
its object the embroilment of England with Eussia, and 
an alliance of Germany with Eussia so far as regards 
her quarrel with England. We know that Germany 
is secretly mobilizing men and ships. We know that 
the ambition of the Emperor is to possess himself 
of the Colonies of Great Britain, if not actually to 
hold his court in London. We know that his jeal- 
ousy of King Edward amounts to a disease. We 
know that he is a man of daring and violent temper, 
with an indomitable will and an unflinching belief in 
his own infallibility and the infallibility of his army and 
navy. We know that he has at least a dozen schemes 
for a sudden attack upon England, and mighty though 
the navy of Great Britain is, it is not in our opinion 
strong enough to protect her shore from the combined 
Baltic and German fleets and also protect her Colonies. 
England, through our friendship, has been warned. 
She proposes with most flattering alacrity the only 
possible counter-stroke — an alliance with ourselves. 
We must decide within twelve hours. The treaty lies 
upon my desk there. Upon us must rest the most 
momentous decision which any Frenchman within our 


recollection has been called upon to make. What have 
you to say, gentlemen ? " 

There was a short silence. Then the man who sat 
at Monsieur Grisson's right hand spoke. 

" The issues before us," he said slowly, " are 
appalling. Every Frenchman's blood must boil at the 
thought of Germany greedily helping herself to the 
mighty wealth and power of Great Britain — becoming 
by this single master-stroke the strongest nation on 
earth, able to dictate even to us, and to send her word 
unchallenged throughout the world. It is a hideous 
picture I It must mean the abandonment forever of 
the hope of every true Frenchman. Every minute 
will become a menace to us. Wilhelm, the arrogant, 
with British gold and British ships at his back, will 
never forget to flaunt himself before us to our eternal 

"You are taking it for granted," his neighbor re- 
marked, " that Germany will be successful." 

" The odds are in her favor," was the quiet reply. 
" The navy of Great Britain is immense, but her sea 
front, so to speak, is enormous. She is open to be the 
prey of a sudden swift attack, and the moment has 
never been more favorable." 

" Let all these things be granted," the third man 
said. " Even then, are we free to enter into this 
alliance with England ? Our treaty with Eussia re- 
mains. We have no proof that she has broken faith 
with us. If this secret treaty between Eussia and 
Germany really exists, it is, of course, another matter. 
But does it? We have nothing but the word of an 
English boy. The rest is all assumption. The whole 


affair might be a nightmare. "VVe might sign this 
treaty with England, and find afterwards that we 
had been the victim of a trick. We should be 
perjured before the face of all Europe, and our great 
financial interest in-Eussia would at once be placed 
in a perilous position." 

A telephone upon the table rang softly. Monsieur 
Grisson held the receiver to his ear and listened. Then 
he rose to his feet. 

"Count von Munchen desires a word with me," he 
annoimced. " He pledges himself not to keep me more 
than five minutes. I had better receive him. Ex- 
cuse me, gentlemen." 

The two men were left alone. The elder and stouter 
of the two busied himself with an inch rule and an 
atlas. He seemed to be making calculations as to the 
distance between Cherbourg and a certain spot in the 
North Sea. 

" WTiat is the chief's own mind ? " his companion 
asked. " Does any one know ? " 

The other shook his head. 

" ^Yh.o can say ? Our ties of friendship with Eng- 
land are too recent to make this a matter of sentiment. 
I believe that without proof he fears to accept this 
statement. And yet above all things he fears Germany. 
There was some talk of a missing page of the actual 
treaty between Eussia and Germany. If this could be 
found I believe that he would sign the draft treaty," 

"I myself," the other said, "do not believe that 
England would be so easily overpowered." 

" It is the suddenness and treachery of the attack 
which counts so greatly in its favor," his companion 
said. " It might be all over in two days before she 


could assemble a fifth part of her forces. If our in- 
formation is correct Germany has men enough mo- 
bilized to run huge risks. Besides, you know- 
how Lafarge's report ran, and what he said. The 
German army is beginning to suffer from a sort of dry 
rot, as must all institutions which fulfil a different 
purpose than that for which they exist. The Emperor 
knows it. If war does not come Germany will have 
to face severe military troubles." 

" I myself am for the alliance ! " 

" And I," the other replied, " if proof of this Ger- 
mano-Eussian understanding could be produced." 

Monsieur Grisson returned. He carefully closed and 
locked the door behind him. 

" Gentlemen," he said, " the German Ambassador has 
just left me. His mission in every way confirms our 
secret information. He has been instructed to inquire 
as to our attitude in the event of any British interference 
with the Baltic Fleet while in home waters." 

The two men looked up expectantly. Monsieur Gris- 
son continued : — 

" I replied that it was a contingency which we scarcely 
thought it worth while to consider. I expressed 
my firm belief that England would observe all the 
conventions, written and understood, of international 

"And he?" 

"He was not satisfied, of course. He declared that 
he had certain information that England was making 
definite plans with a view to ensure the delay of the 
fleet. He went on to say that Germany was deter- 
mined not to tolerate any such thing, and he concludes 
that we, as Eussia's ally, would at any rate remain 


neutral should Germany think it her duty to inter- 

" And your reply ? " 

" I answered that in the event of untoward happenings 
France would act as her honor dictated — remaining 
always mindful of the obligations of her alliance. He 
was quite satisfied." 

" He had no suspicion of this ? " the young man asked, 
touching the treaty with his forefinger. 

" None, It is believed in Germany that the young 
Englishman was reallv found drowned in the Seine 
after a short career of dissipation. Our friends served 
us well here. Now, gentlemen, the English Ambas- 
sador will be here in twenty minutes. "VMiat am I to 
say to him ? Do we sign this draft agreement or do 
we not ? " 

There was a silence which lasted nearly a minute. 
Then the younger of the two men spoke. 

" Sir," he said respectfully, '' without some proof of 
Ptussia's falsity I cannot see how in honor we can de- 
part from our treaty obligations with her to the extent 
of signing an agreement with her putative enemy. 
England must fight her own battle, and God help 

" And you ? " Monsieur Grisson asked, turning to the 
third man. 

" I agree," was the regretful answer. '*' If this treach- 
erous scheme is carried out I believe that France will 
be face to face with the greatest crisis she has known 
in history. Even then I dare not suggest that we 
court dishonor by breaking an alliance with a friend in 

" You are right, gentlemen," Monsieur Grisson said 


with a sigh. ** We must tell Lord Fothergill that our 
relations with his country must remain unfettered. 
I " 

Again the telephone bell rang. Monsieur Grisson 
listened, and replied with a sudden return to his old 
briskness of manner. 

" It is young De Bergillac," he announced. " He has 
been in England in search of that missing page of the 
treaty. I have told them to show him in." 

The Vicomte entered, paler than ever from recent 
travel, and deeply humiliated from the fact that 
there was a smut upon his collar which he had 
had no time to remove. He presented a paper to 
Monsieur Grisson and bowed. The President spread 
it out upon the table, and the faces of the three men 
as they read became a study. Monsieur Grisson rang 
the bell. 

" Monsieur le Due de Bergillac and a young Eng- 
lish gentleman," he told the attendant, " are in my 
private retiring-room. Desire their presence." 

The servant withdrew. The three men looked at one 

" If this is genuine ! " the younger murmured. 

"It is the Eussian official paper," his vis-a-vis de- 
clared, holding it up to the light, 

Then the Due de Bergillac and Guy Poynton were 
ushered lq. Monsieur Grisson rose to his feet. 

" Monsieur Poynton," he said, " we have all three 
heard your story as to what you witnessed in the 
forest of Pozen. It is part of your allegation that 
a page of writing from the private car which you 
were watching was blown to your feet, and that you 
picked it up and brought it to Paris with you. Look 



at this sheet of paper carefully. Tell me if it is the 
one. " 

Guy glanced at it for a moment, and handed it back. 

" It is certainly the one," he answered. " If you look 
at the back you will see my initials there and the 

Monsieur Grisson turned it over quickly. The two 
other men looked over his shoulder, and one of them 
gave a little exclamation. The initials and date were 

Then Monsieur Grisson turned once more to Guy. 
He was not a tall man, but he had dignity, and his 
presence was impressive. He spoke very slowly. 

" Monsieur Guy Poynton," he said, " it is not often 
that so great an issue — that the very destinies of two 
great countries must rest upon the simple and uncor- 
roborated story of one man. Yet that is the position in 
which we stand to-day, Do not think that you are 
being treated with distrust. I speak to you not on be- 
half of myself, but for the millions of human beings 
whose welfare is my care, and for those other millions 
of your own country^men, whose interests must be yours. 
I ask you solemnly — is this story of yours word for 
word a true one ? " 

Guy looked him in the face resolutely, and answered 
without hesitation. 

" On my honor as an Englishman," he declared, " it is 
true I " 

Monsieur Grisson held out his hand. 

"Thank you! "he said. 

The three men were again alone. The man who 
controlled the destinies of Erance dipped his pen in 
the ink. 


,. " Gentlemen," he said, " do you agree with me that I 
shall sign this draft ? " 

" We do 1 " they both answered. 

The President signed his name. Then he tm:ned the 
handle of the telephone. 

" You may show Lord Fothergill in I " he ordered. 



IT was perhaps as well for Andrew Pelham that he 
could not see Phyllis' look as she entered the room. 
An English gentleman, she had been told, was waiting 
to see her, and she had thought of no one but Dun- 
combe. It was true that she had sent him away, but 
only an hour ago the Marquise had told her that her 
emancipation was close at hand. He too might have 
had a hint ! The little smile, however, died away from 
her lips as she saw who was waiting for her with 
such manifest impatience. 

" You, Andrew ! " she exclaimed in amazement. 
" Why, however did you find me out ? " 

He took both her hands in his. The look upon his 
face was transfiguring. 

"At last! At last!" he exclaimed. "Never mind 
how I found you ! Tell me, what does it all mean ? 
Are you here of your own free will ? " 

" Absolutely ! " she answered. 

" It was you at Eunton ? " 


" Under a false name — with a man who committed 
robbery ! " 

She shrugged her shoulders a little wearily. 

" My dear Andrew ! " she said, " I will admit that 
I have been doing all manner of incomprehensible 



things. I could n't explain everything. It would take 
too long. What I did, I did for Guy's sake, and of my 
own free will. It will be all over in a day or two now, 
and we shall be coming back to Raynesworth. Then I 
will tell you tales of our adventures which will make 
your hair stand on end." 

" It is n't true about Guy, then ? " he exclaimed. 

She hesitated for a moment. 

"Andrew," she said, "I cannot tell you anything. 
It must sound rather horrid of me, but I cannot help 
it. I want you to go away. In a day or two I will 

He looked at her in pained bewilderment. 

'•' But, Phyllis," he protested, " I am one of your oldest 
friends 1 You ask me to go away and leave you here 
with strangers, without a word of explanation. Why, 
I have been weeks searching for you." 

" Andrew," she said, " I know it. I don't want to 
be unkind. I don't want you to think that I have 
forgotten that you are, as you say, one of my oldest 
friends. But there are times when one's friends are a 
source of danger rather than pleasure. Frankly, this 
is one of them." 

His face darkened. He looked slowly around the 
magnificent room. He saw little, but what he could 
distinguish was impressive. 

"Your riddles," he said gravely, "are hard to read. 
You want me to go away and leave you h^re." 

" You must," she said firmly. 

" Did you treat Duncombe like this ? " he asked in a 
blind fit of jealousy. 

" You have not the right to ask me such a question," 
she answered coldly. 


"Not the right! Not the right!" he repeated. 
" Who else has, then ? Have n't I watched you grow 
from a beautiful, capricious child into the woman you 
are ? Have n't I taught you, played with you, done 
your bidding blindly ever since you came into your 
kingdom ? Have n't I felt the pain and the joy of 
you in my heart ? Who else has a better right, then ? 
Buncombe, who came here, a stranger to you — or is 
it one of your new friends ? " 

She came close to him, and laid her hand upon his 

" Don't be foolish, Andrew ! " she said softly. 

His whole expression changed. The bitterness left 
his tone. 

" Ah, Phyllis ! " he said. " That is more like your- 

" And I want you," she said, " to be like your old self. 
You have always been my best friend, Andrew. I hope 
you will always be that." 

He tried to look into her face. It seemed to him 
that there was a little unnecessary emphasis in her 

" I am not a child now, you know," she continued. 
" I am quite old enough to take care of myself. You 
must believe that, Andrew. You must go away, and 
not worry about me. You will do this, please, because 
I ask you ! " 

" If I must," he said reluctantly. " I will go away, 
but not to worry about you — that is impossible. You 
seem to be surrounded by all the mediaeval terrors 
which confronted the emancipation of princesses in 
our fairy books. Only a short time ago Duncombe 
implored me to follow his example, and leave you and 


Paris alone. The detective whom I brought with me 
has been shadowed ever since we left Paris. Last night 
he left me for a few hours, and this morning comes a 
note from the hospital. He is lying there with the 
back of his head beaten in — garotters, of course, the 
police say, looking for plunder. How can you ask me 
to be easy in my mind about you ? " 

She smiled reassuringly. 

" No harm will come to me here, I can promise you," 
she said. " It is you who run the most risk if you 
only knew it. Sir George Duncombe gave you the 
best advice when he tried to get you to return to 

*• I cannot leave Lloyd now until he has recovered," 
Andrew answered. *•' Tell me, Phyllis, has Duncombe 
found you out ? Has he been here ? " 

" Yes," she answered. " I sent him away — as I am 
sending you." 

"Has he ever told you," Andrew asked, "why he 
was willing in the first instance to come to Paris in 
search of you?" 

"No," she answered. "Wasn't it because he was 
your friend ? " 

He shook his head. 

"It is his affair, not mine," he said with a sigh. 
" Ask him some day." 

" You won't tell me, Andrew ? " 

" No ! I will go now ! You know where to send for 
me if you should need help. I can find my way down, 
thank you. I have a guide from the hotel outside." 

The Marquise swept into the room as he passed 
out, an impression of ermine and laces and per- 


" Another of your English lovers, ma telle / " she 

" Scarcely that," Phyllis answered. " He is a very old 
friend, and he was rather hard to get rid of." 

" I think," the Marquise said, " you would get rid of 
all very willingly for the sake of one, eh ? " 

The Marquise stared insolently into the girl's face. 
Phyllis only laughed. 

" One is usually considered the ideal number — in our 
country," she remarked demurely. 

" But the one ? " the Marquise continued. " He 
would not be one of these cold, heavy countrymen 
of yours, no ? You have learnt better perhaps over 

It was a cross-examination, but Phyllis could not 
imagine its drift. 

" I have not had very much opportunity over here, 
have I, to amend my ideals ? " she asked. " I think the 
only two Frenchmen I have met are the Marquis and 
that languid young man with the green tie, the Vicomte 
de Bergillac, was n't it ? " 

The Marquise watched her charge closely. 

" Well," she said, " he is comme il faut, is he not ? 
You find him more elegant, more chic than your Eng- 
lishmen, eh ? " 

Phyllis shook her head regretfully. 

"To me," she admitted, "he seemed like an exceed- 
ingly precocious spoilt child ! " 

" He is twenty-three," the Marquise declared. 

Phyllis laughed softly. 

"Well," she said, "I do not think that I shall 
amend my ideals for the sake of the Vicomte de 
Bergillac ! " 


The Marquise looked at her doubtfully. 

"Tell me, child," she said, "you mean, then, that of 
the two — your English Sir George Buncombe and Henri 
— you would prefer Sir George ? " 

Phyllis looked at her with twinkling eyes. 

" You would really like to know ? " she asked. 


" Sir George Buncombe — infinitely ! " 

The Marquise seemed to have recovered her good 

" Come, little one," she said, " you lose color in the 
house. I will take you for a drive ! " 

Andrew, conscious that he was being followed, sat 
down outside a caf^ on his way homewards, and bade his 
guide leave him for a little time. Instantly there was 
the soft rustle of feminine skirts by his side, and a 
woman seated herself on the next chair. 

" Monsieur has not been up to the Caf^ Montmartre 
lately ! " 

Pelham turned his head. It was the young lady from 

" No ! " he answered. " I have not been there since I 
had the pleasure of seeing Mademoiselle ! " 

" Monsieur has discovered all that he wanted to 
know ? " 

He nodded a little wearily. 

" Yes, I thmk so ! " 

She drew her chair quite close to his. The sable 
of her turban hat almost brushed his cheek, and the 
perfume of the violets at her bosom was strong in his 

*' Monsieur has seen the young lady ? '* 


" I have seen her," he answered. 

"Monsieur is indebted to me," she said softly, "for 
some information. Let me ask him one question. Is 
it true, this story in the newspapers, of the finding of 
this young man's body ? Is Monsieur Guy Poynton 
really dead ? " 

" I know no more than we all read in the newspapers," 
he answered. 

" His sister spoke of him as dead ? " she asked. 

"I cannot discuss this matter with you. Mademoi- 
selle," he answered. 

" Monsieur is ungrateful," she declared with a little 
grimace. " It is only that which I desire to know. He 
was such a heau gargon, that young Englishman. You 
will tell me that ? " she whispered. 

He shook his head. 

" Mademoiselle will excuse me," he said. " I am 
going to take a carriage to my hotel ! " 

" It is on the way to leave me at my rooms, if you 
will be so kind," she suggested, laying her hand upon 
his arm. 

" Mademoiselle will excuse me," he answered, turning 
away. " Good afternoon." 

Mademoiselle also took a carriage, and drove to a 
large house at the top of the Champs Elys^es. She was 
at once admitted, and passed with the air of one familiar 
with the place into a small room at the back of the 
house, where a man was sitting at a table writing. He 
looked up as she entered. 


She threw herself into a chair. 

"I have been following the Englishman, Pelham, 


all day," she said in German. "He has seen Miss 
Poynton. I have talked with him since at a cafd, but 
he would tell me nothing. He has evidently been 

The man grumbled as he resumed his writing. 

"That fact alone should be enough for us," he re- 
marked. "If there is anything to conceal we can 
guess what it is. These amateurs who are in league 
with the secret service are the devil ! I would as soon 
resign. What with them and the regular secret service, 
Paris is an impossible city for us. Where we would 
watch we are watched ourselves. The streets and caf^s 
bristle with spies ! I do not wonder that you find suc- 
cess so difficult, Mademoiselle ! " 

" I have n't done so badly ! " she protested. 

" No, for you have not been set easy tasks. Can you 
tell me, though, where that young Englishman dis- 
appeared to when he left the Cafe Montmartre before 
your very eyes ? Can you tell me whether the secret 
service got hold of his story, how much the French 
Government believed of it, whether they have communi- 
cated with the English Government, and how much 
they know ? Beyond these things, it is not your 
province to see, or mine, Mademoiselle, and it is not for 
us to guess at or inquire into the meaning of things. 
Tell me, is it worth while to have this man Pelham put 
out of the way for a time ? " 

She shook her head. 

" I do not think so," she answered. " He is quite 
stupid. The other. Sir George Buncombe, he was 
different. If he had stayed in Paris he would have been 
worth watching," 



A bell rang. The man rose. 
« The chief ! " he said. " Be at the cafd to-night." 
Mademoiselle went away thoughtfully. 
"It is over this affair," she said to herself. "Carl 
knows everything!" 



SPENCER, whose recovery during the last few days 
had been as rapid as the first development of his 
indisposition, had just changed for dinner, and was light- 
ing a cigarette d'appertit when, without waiting to be 
announced, the Yicomte de Bergillac entered the room. 
Spencer, with lightning-like intuition, knew that his 
time was come. 

" Off with your coat, man, and get your code books out. 
I am going to give you the most sensational story which 
has ever appeared in your paper!" he exclaimed. 
" Only, remember this ! It must appear to-morrow 
morning. I am arranging for the French papers to 
have it. Yours shall be the only English journal. 
Glance through these sheets. They contain the story 
of V affaire Poynton ! " 

Spencer was master of the gist of the thing in a 
very few moments. His eyes were bright with ex- 

" Who guarantees this ? " he asked quickly. 

"My uncle has signed it," Henri de Bergillac an- 
swered, " and at the bottom of the page there you will 
see a still more distinguished signature. You under- 
stand V affaire Poynton now ? It is very simple. That 
English boy actually witnessed a meeting between the 
Czar and the Emperor, and turns up in Paris with a 


loose vsheet of a treaty between the two, relative to an 
attack upon England. Our people got hold of him at 
the Caf^ Montmartre, and we have hidden him away 
ever since. Our friends, the Germans, who seem to 
have had some suspicions about him, have filled the 
city with spies, but from the first we have kept them 
off the scent. We had a little difficulty in convincing 
our friends your country-people, but we managed to bor- 
row a few papers from the German Ambassador whilst 
he was staying at a country-house in England, which 
were sufficient." 

Spencer was already writing. His coat lay on the 
floor where he had thrown it. 

" Don't go for a moment, De Bergillac," he said. " I 
want to ask you a few things. I can talk and code at 
the same time. What about Miss Poynton ? " 

" Well, we had to take care of her too," De Bergillac 
said. " Of course all her inquiries over here would 
have led to nothing, but they knew her at the English 
Embassy, so we walked her off from the Caf^ Mont- 
martre one night and took her to a friend of mine, the 
Marquise de St. Ethol. We told her a little of the 
truth, and a little, I 'm afraid, which was an exaggera- 
tion. Anyhow, we kept her quiet, and we got her to 
go to England for us with Toquet. They had a very 
narrow shave down at Runton, by the by." 

"After this," Spencer said with a smile, "the secret 
service people proper will have to look to their laurels. 
It is a triumph for the amateurs." 

The Vicomte twirled his tiny black moustache. 

" Yes," he said, " we have justified ourselves. It has 
cost us something, though ! " 

"You mean?" 



Spencer stopped writing. 

** It was an affair of a million francs," the Vicomte 
said. " I hope he has got the money." 

Spencer resumed his work. 

"The Baron a traitor!" he exclaimed. "^\Tiere 
is he?" 

" In England ! We are not vindictive. If the Ger- 
mans paid him a million francs they got nothing for it. 
He has been watched from the first. We knew of it the 
moment he came to terms with them. He only knows 
bare facts. Nothing beyond. He is going to Brazil, I 
think. We shall not interfere." 

"Tell me why," Spencer said, "you were so down on 
all of us who joined in the search for the Poyntons." 

" We could not afford to run any risks of your dis- 
covering a clue," De Bergillac answered, " because you 
in your turn were closely watched by German spies, 
hoping to discover them through you. That is why we 
had to strike hard at all of you who interfered. I 
was sorry for little Flossie — but she knew the risk 
she ran. We had to stop you, induce Duncombe to 
leave Paris, and knock on the head a fool of an Eng- 
lish detective for fear he might discover something. 
Monsieur Pelham was getting into danger, but, of 
course, it is all over now. To-morrow we are bringing 
Guy into Paris." 

Spencer nodded. 

" Where is Duncombe ? " he asked. 

"Back in Paris," De Bergillac answered. ''Arrived 
here with me to-day. He is much in love with the 
beautiful sister. Alas ! It was to him that she en- 
trusted the missing page of that treaty which she 


found in her brother's luggage. Some day I must 
tell you of my adventures in England last night, when 
I went over to get it and found Louis a little ahead 
of me." 

" Some day," Spencer murmured, writing for dear life, 
with the perspiration streaming down his forehead. 
" My dear Vicomte, do you mind ringing the bell ? 
I want my servant. I must telegraph my paper to 
warn them of this. They must clear two columns of 
type for me." 

The Yicomte did as he was asked. Then he turned 
towards the door. 

" I will leave you," he said. " The dust of England 
is still in my throat. Absinthe, a bath and dinner ! 
Au revoir, mon ami! Confess that I have kept the 
promise which Louis made you. It is what you call a 
coup this, eh ? " 

Out on the boulevards the papers were selling like 
wildfire. The Vicomte bought one, and sitting do^Ti 
outside a caf^ ordered absinthe. The great headlines 
attracted him at once. He sipped his absinthe and 
smiled to himself. 

" The play commences ! " he murmured. " I must 
return to Monsieur Spencer." 

Spencer was still working like a madman. 

" I must interrupt you for a moment," De Bergillac 
said. "I have brought you an evening paper. The 
Baltic Fleet has sunk half a dozen English fishing- 
boats and the whole country is in a frenzy. It is the 

Spencer nodded. 

"Leave the paper, there's a good fellow," he said. 
" I will look it through presently. If there is time — 


if there is only time this will be the greatest night of 
my life. No other paper has a hint, you say ? " 

" Not one ! " 

" If I could put back the clock a single hour," 
Spencer muttered. " Never mind ! Williams, more 
sheets ! " 

De Bergillac took his leave. He had telephoned for 
his motor, which was waiting outside. He gave the 
order to drive to his rooms. On the way he passed 
the great pile of buildings in the Louvre. In a room 
at the extreme end of the pile a light was burning. 
De BergiUac looked at it curiously. A small brougham, 
which he recognized, stood outside. 

" If one could see inside," he muttered. " It should 
be interesting ! " 

In a sense it was interesting. Monsieur Grisson sat 
there in front of his open table. His secretary's place 
by his side was vacant. Opposite sat a tall man with 
gray hair and dark moustache. He was dressed for 
the evening, and his breast glittered with stars and 

" It is exceedingly kind of you, Monsieur," he said, 
" to gi^ant me this interview at so short notice. I was 
most anxious to apprise you of news, which as yet I 
believe has not found its way into 3^our papers. You 
have read accounts of a Eussian attack upon an English 
fishing-fleet, but you have not yet been informed of 
the presence — the undoubted presence — of Japanese 
torpedo-boats concealed amongst them." 

Monsieur Grisson raised his eyebrow^s. 

" Indeed no ! " he answered. " We have not even 
heard a rumor of anything of the sort." 



" Nevertheless, their presence was indubitable," the 
Prince declared. "In those circumstances. Monsieur, 
you can doubtless understand that our reply to any 
protests on the part of England will be of an unpacific 
nature. AVe should not for a moment allow ourselves 
to be dictated to by the allies of our enemy." 

" Naturally 1 " Monsieur Grisson answered. " On the 
other hand, you surely do not wish to embroil yourself 
in a quarrel with England at the present moment ? " 

"We wish to quarrel with no one," the Prince 
answered haughtily. "At the same time, we are not 
afraid of England. We recognize the fact that if war 
should come it is an independent affair, and does not 
come under the obligations of our alliaQce. We ask, 
therefore, for your neutrality alone." 

Monsieur Grisson bowed. 

"But, Prince," he said gravely, "you speak lightly 
enough of the possibilities of war, but surely you must 
know that the English fleet in the Channel and at 
Gibraltar altogether outmatches the Baltic Fleet ? " 

"A Eussian," the Prince answered grandly, "is not 
afraid of great odds!" 

Monsieur Grisson bowed. 

"For the sake of humanity," he said, "I trust most 
sincerely that the affair may be peaceably arranged. 
If the contrary should turn out to be the case, I can only 
say that in a quarrel which concerns Eussia and Eng- 
land alone, France would remain benevolently neutral. 
As you have remarked, the obligations of our treaty 
do not apply to such a case." 

The Prince played nervously with the star at his 
chest. Both men were well aware that up to now they 
had been merely playing with words. 


" There is another contingency," the Eussian re- 
marked, " which, now we are upon the subject, it would 
perhaps be as well to allude to. The relations between 
Germany and England, as you know, just now are very 
sorely strained. If Germany should take advantage of 
the present situation to make a demonstration against 
England, that, of course, would not, from your point of 
view, affect the situation ? " 

Monsieur Grisson looked like a man who sees before 
him amazing things. 

" My dear Prince," he said, " do not let us mis- 
understand one another. You cannot by any possi- 
bility be suggesting that Germany might associate 
herself with you in your resistance to possible English 
demands ? " 

The Eussian leaned back in his chair. 

" Germany is on the spot," he remarked, " and knows 
the fact of the case. She has proofs of the presence of 
Japanese torpedo-boats amongst the English fishing-fleet. 
Her natural love of fair play might possibly lead 
her to espouse our cause in this particular instance. 
This, of course, would make for peace. If Germany 
commands, England will obey. She could not do 

" You have introduced, my dear Prince," Monsieur 
Grisson said, " an altogether new phase of this question, 
and one which merits the most grave consideration. 
Am I to understand that there is any arrangement 
between Germany and yourself with respect to this 
question ? " 

"Scarcely anything so definite as an arrange- 
ment," the Prince answered. " Merely an under- 
standing ! " 


Monsieur Grisson had the air of a man who had just 
received grave tidings of his dearest friend. 

" Is this, Monsieur le Prince," he said, " entirely in 
accord with our own treaty obligations ? " 

"We do not consider it to be in contravention to 
them," the Prince answered. 

The gravity of Monsieur Grisson's manner grew even 
more pronounced. 

" My dear Prince," he said, " you are doubtless aware 
that during the last few weeks there have been 
some very strange rumors about as to a meeting be- 
tween your master and the Emperor of Germany, and 
an agreement which was forthwith signed between 
them. I need not remark that all such rumors were 
entirely discredited here. Such a meeting kept secret 
from us would of course be very seriously considered 

The Prince smiled. He remained admirably self- 
possessed, though the very veins in his forehead were 
swollen with anger. 

" A canard of the sort has reached my ears," he re- 
marked. " Some English boy, I believe, imagined or 
dreamed that he saw some such meeting. We scarcely 
need, I think, to discuss this seriously." 

" Personally I agree with you," Monsieur Grisson 
said smoothly. " My ministry, however, seem to have 
been a little impressed by the boy's story. An auto- 
graph letter from the Czar, denying it, would perhaps 
make our negotiations more easy." 

" It shall be forthcoming," the Prince remarked, rising. 
" By the by, I hear reports of great activity from 
Cherbourg. More manoeuvres, eh ? " 

Monsieur Grisson shrugged his shoulders. 


" Our new naval chief," he remarked, " is a marvel 
of industry. You know the English proverb about the 
new broom, eh ? " 

The Prince bowed. 

"During the next few hours," he remarked, "many 
things may happen. You will be always accessible ? " 

"I shall not leave my post, Prince 1" Monsieur 
Grisson answered. "You will find me here at any 



ON the following morning the inhabitants of Lon- 
don, Paris, Berlin, and St. Petersburg for a sum 
varying from a halfpenny to a penny were treated 
to sensa,tionalism as thrilling as any six-shilling 
shocker hot from the press and assured of its half- 
million circulation. One English and one French news- 
paper outdid their competitors by publishing side by side 
with their account of the exploits of the Eussian fleet 
a marvellous but circumstantial story of a meeting and 
alliance between the rulers of Germany and Eussia. 
The eyes of the whole world were turned towards Kiel, 
and more wonderful rumors still flashed backwards 
and forwards along the wires throughout Europe. A 
great mobilization can be kept secret up to a certain 
point, but when men and ships are collected and ready 
the truth must out. 

At an unusually early hour Monsieur Grisson, sup- 
ported now by two members of his ministry, received 
a visit from the Eussian and German Ambassadors, 
Prince Korndoff and Count von Munchen. The usual 
compliments were quickly exchanged. 

" I have asked my friend Count von Munchen to 
accompany me," Prince Korndoff explained, " because 
we are here to speak with you on a matter concerning 
which our interests are identical. You have read the 
demands which England has dared to lay before my 


master with reference to the encounter in the North 

Monsieur Grisson bowed. 

"I have studied them with great interest," he ad- 

"I do not need tell you then that they are scouted 
with indignation by my master and his advisers," 
the Prince answered. " Neither shall we permit for 
a single moment the detention of our fleet upon its 

"That means, then, war with England," Monsieur 
Grisson remarked quietly. 

" Unless they instantly withdraw their insolent de- 
mands — undoubtedly," the Prince answered. 

Monsieur Grisson turned to the German. 

" And you. Count," he asked, " how does this concern 

" We also," the Count answered, " consider the de- 
mands of England unwarrantable. We believe that 
there were undoubtedly Japanese torpedo boats con- 
cealed amongst the English fishing fleet, and we con- 
sider that the action of the Admiral in command of the 
Eussian fleet was fully justified." 

" You are prepared, then, to give Eussia your moral 
support?" the President asked. 

" We are prepared to do more," the Count answered 
boldly. "If England persists in her demands we are 
prepared to demonstrate against her." 

Monsieur Grisson assumed a very grave expression. 

" I too," he said, " have lost no time in endeavor- 
ing to solve the mystery of this North Sea incident. I 
have been in communication with the English Am- 
bassador, and I have collected all the evidence possible. 


There is absolutely no proof obtainable of the presence 
of any Japanese craft amongst the English fishing fleet. 
I submit, therefore, that this is a case for arbitration. I 
consider that up to the present our friends on the other 
side of the Channel have displayed commendable mod- 
eration in a time of great excitement, and I am happy 
to say that I have the authority of Lord Fothergill him- 
self for saying that they will consent to submitting the 
affair to a commission of arbitration." 

The President's words were received with chilling 
silence. It was the Prince, who, after a short silence, 

" Arbitration," he said coldly, " does not commend itself 
to us. We have been insulted. Our country and our 
gallant fleet have been held up to ridicule throughout 
the whole English Press. We are tired of being dic- 
tated to and bullied by a weaker Power — the openly 
declared ally of our enemy. England has long been 
seeking for a casus belli with us. At last she has found 

Monsieur Grisson whispered for a moment to one 
of his colleagues. Then he turned once more to the 

" Let us understand one another. Monsieur le Prince ! " 
he said, " and you, Count von Munchen ! You have 
come to announce to me your intention to jointly make 
war upon England. St. Petersburg is to refuse her de- 
mands, England will naturally strike at the Baltic Fleet, 
and Germany will send her fleet to the rescue, and at 
the same time land troops somewhere in the North of 
England. Eussia, I presume, will withdraw her troops 
from Manchuria and strike at India ! " 

" No, no ! " Count von Munchen protested. " I can 


assure you, Monsieur, it is not our intention to land a 
single German soldier in England. We are interested 
only to see fair play to Russia. We require that the 
Baltic Fleet shall be allowed to go on its way without 

The President faced the last speaker. His gray bushy 
eyebrows met in a frown. 

" Then what. Count," he asked, " is the meaning of 
the mobilization of two hundred thousand men at Kiel ? 
What is the meaning of your State railroads running 
west being closed last night to all public traffic ? Why 
have you cabled huge orders for Government supplies ? 
Why were you running trains all last night to the coast ? 
Do you suppose that our secret service slumbers — that 
we are a nation of babies ? " 

The Count made an effort to retain his composure. 

" Monsieur le President," he said, " the reports which 
have reached you have been much exaggerated. It is 
necessary for us to back up our protests to England by 
a show of force ! " 

Monsieur Grisson smiled. 

" Enough of this, gentlemen ! " he said. " We will 
now talk to one another as men who have weighty 
affairs to deal with simply and directly. The story 
of the meeting between your two rulers which you. 
Prince Korndoff, have alluded to as a fairy tale, was 
a perfectly true one. I have known of that meeting 
some time, and I have certain proof of what transpired 
at it. The North Sea incident was no chance affair. It 
was a deliberately and skilfully arranged casus helli, 
although your admiral. Prince Korndoff, had to go one 
hundred miles out of his way to find the Dogger Bank 
fishing-fleet. You spoke to me last night of Cherbourg, 


Prince. I think that after all your secret service is 
scarcely so successful as mine, for I can assure you that 
you will find there all that is to be found to-day at Kiel." 

The Prince was amazed. 

" But, Monsieur le President," he exclaimed, " you 
cannot mean — you, our ally " 

The President extended a forefinger. 

" It was no part of our alliance," he said sternly, " that 
you should make a secret treaty with another Power and 
keep hidden from us no less a scheme than the invasion 
of England. My Cabinet have dealt with this matter on 
its own merits. I have the honor to tell you, gentlemen, 
that I have concluded an alliance with England to come 
into effect in the case of your carrying out your present 
intention. For every army corps you succeed in landing 
in England I too shall land one, only, I think, with less 
difficulty, and for every German ship which clears for 
action in the North Sea two French ones will be pre- 
pared to meet her." 

" I think. Monsieur le President," he said stiffly, " that 
this discussion had better be postponed until after I 
have had an opportunity of communicating with my 
Imperial master. I must confess, sir, that your attitude 
is a complete surprise to me." 

" As you will, sir," the President answered. " I am 
perhaps more a man of affairs than a diplomatist, and I 
have spoken to you with less reserve than is altogether 
customary. But I shall never believe that diplomacy 
which chooses the dark and tortuous ways of intrigue 
and misrepresentation is best calculated to uphold and 
strengthen the destinies of a great nation. I wish you 
good morning, gentlemen ! " 


For forty-eight hours the war fever raged, and the 
pendulum swung backwards and forwards. The cables 
between Berlin and St. Petersburg were never idle. 
There was a rumor, amongst those behind the scenes, of 
an enormous bribe offered to France in return for her 
neutrality alone. Its instantaneous and scornful refusal 
practically brought the crisis to an end. The German 
hosts melted away, and the Baltic Fleet passed on. 
St. Petersburg accepted the British demands, and a 
commission of arbitration was appointed. Henri de 
Bergillac read out the news from the morning paper, 
and yawned. 

" C'est fini — V affaire Poynton I " he remarked. " You 
can get ready as soon as you like, Guy. I am going to 
take you into Paris to your sister ! " 

Guy looked up eagerly. 

" My pardon ? " he asked. 

The Vicomte made a wry face. 

" Heavens ! " he exclaimed, " I forgot that there were 
still explanations to make. Fill your abominable 
pipe, mon ami, and think that to-morrow or the next 
day you may be in your beloved England. Think 
how well we have guarded you here when a dozen men 
were loose in Paris who would have killed you on sight. 
Ptemember that in the underground history of England 
you will be known always as the man who saved his 
country. I shouldn't wonder in the least if you were n't 
decorated when you get home. Think of all these 
things — hard ! " 

" All right ! " Guy answered. " Go ahead I " 

" You never killed any one. The duel was a fake. 
You were — not exactly sober. That was entirely our 
fault, and we had to invent some plan to induce you 


to come into hiding peacefully. Voil^ tout ! It is 
forgiven ? " 

Guy laughed a great laugh of relief. 

" Kather ! " he exclaimed. " What an ass I must 
have seemed, asking that old Johnny for a pardon." 

The Vicomte smiled. 

" The old Johnny, Guy, was the President of France. 
He wanted to know afterwards what the devil you 

Guy rose to his feet. 

" If you tell me anything else," he said, " I shall want 
to punch your head." 

The Vicomte laughed. 

" Come," he said, " I will return you to your adorable 
sister ! " 



MONSIEUE ALBEET was not often surprised, and 
still less often did he show it. The party, how- 
ever, who trooped cheerily into his little restaurant at 
something after midnight on this particular morning, 
succeeded in placing him at a disadvantage. 

First there was the Vicomte de Bergillac, one of his 
most important and influential patrons for many reasons, 
whose presence alone was more than sufficient guarantee 
for whoever might follow. Then there was the Marquise 
de St. Ethol, one of the haute noblesse, to welcome whom 
was a surpassing honor. 

And then Monsieur Guy Poynton, the young English 
gentleman, whose single appearance here a few weeks 
back had started all the undercurrents of political in- 
trigue, and who for the justification of French journal- 
ism should at that moment have been slowly dying at 
the Morgue. 

And with him the beautiful young English lady who 
had come in search of him, and who, as she had left the 
place in the small hours of the morning with Monsieur 
Louis, should certainly not now have reappeared as 
charming and as brilliant as ever, her eyes soft with 
happiness, and her laugh making music more wonderful 
than the violins of his little orchestra. 

And following her the broad-shouldered young Eng- 
lishman, Sir George Duncombe, who had once enter- 


tained a very dangerous little party in his private room 
upstairs, and against whom the dictum had gone forth. 

And following him the Englishman with the heavy 
glasses, whom Vaffairc Poynton had also brought before 
to his caf^, and with whom Mademoiselle from Austria 
had tailzied long and earnestly. 

And lastly Monsieur Spencer, the English journalist, 
also with a black cross after his name, but seemingly 
altogether unconscious of it. 

Monsieur Albert was not altogether at his best. Such 
a mixture of sheep and goats confused him. It was the 
Yicomte who, together with the head waiter, arranged a 
redistribution of tables so that the whole party could sit 
together. It was the Vicomte who constituted himself 
host. He summoned Monsieur Albert to him. 

"Albert," he said, with a little wave of the hand, 
" these ladies and gentlemen are my friends. To quote 
the words of my charming young companion here, Mon- 
sieur Guy Poynton, whom you may possibly remem- 
ber " — Monsieur Albert bowed — " we are on the bust ! 
I do not know the precise significance of the phrase any 
more than I suppose you do, but it means amongst other 
things a desire for the best you have to eat and to drink. 
Bring Pomeroy '92, Albert, and send word to your chef 
that we desire to eat without being hungry I " 

Monsieur Albert hurried away, glad of the opportunity 
to escape. Guy leaned back in his chair and looked 
around with interest. 

" Same old place," he remarked, " and by Jove, there 's 
the young lady from Austria." 

The young lady from Austria paid her bill and de- 
parted somewhat hastily. The Yicomte smiled. 

"I think we shall frighten a few of them away to- 


night ! " he remarked. " The wine ! Good ! AYe shall 
need magnums to drown our regrets, if indeed our 
English friends desert us to-morrow. Monsieur Guy 
Poynton, unconscious maker of history and savior of 
your country, I congratulate you upon your whole skin, 
and I drink your liealth." 

Guy drank, and, laughing, refilled his glass. 

"And to you, the best of amateur conspirators and 
most charming of hosts," he said. " Come soon to 
England and bring your automobile, and we will con- 
spire against you with a policeman and a stopwatch." 

The Vicomte sighed and glanced towards Phyllis. 

" In happier circumstances I " he murmured, and then 
catching the Marquise's eye, he was silent. 

The band played English music, and the chef sent 
them up a wonderful omelette. Mademoiselle Ermine, 
from the Folies Bergferes, danced in the small space 
between the tables, and the Yicomte, buying a cluster of 
pink roses from the flower-girl, sent them across to her 
with a diamond pin in the ribbon. The Marquise re- 
buked him half seriously, but he only laughed. 

" To-night," he said, " is the end of a great adventure. 
"We amateurs have justified our existence. , To-night I 
give away all that I choose. Ah, Angfele ! " he mur- 
mured, in her dainty little ear, " if I had but a heart to 
give I " 

She flashed a quick smile into his face, but her fore- 
head was wrinkled. 

" You have lost it to the young English miss. She is 
beautiful, but so cold ! " 

" Do you think so ? " he whispered. " Look ! " 

Phyllis was seated next Buncombe, and he too 
was whispering something in her ear. The look with 


which she answered him, told all that there was to 
know. The Marquise, who had intercepted it, shrugged 
her shoulders. 

" It is not worth while, my friend, that you break your 
heart," she murmured, " for that one can see is an affair 

He nodded. 

" After all," he said, " the true Frenchman loves only 
in his own country." 

" Or in any other where he may chance to be," she 
answered drily. " Never mind, Henri ! I shall not let 
you wander very far. Your supper-party has been de- 
lightful — but you see the time ! " 

They trooped down the narrow stairs laughing 
and talking. Buncombe and Phyllis came last, and 
their hands met for an instant behind the burly com- 

" Until to-morrow ! " 

" Until to-morrow," she echoed softly, as he handed 
her into the electric coupe. 

Andrew and he drove down the hill together. Dun- 
combe was a little ill at ease. 

" There is one thing, Andrew," he said, " which I 
should like to say to you. I want you to remember 
the night in your garden, when you asked me to come 
to Paris for you." 

" Yes ? " 

" I warned you, did n't I ? I knew that it would come, 
and it has ! " 

Andrew smiled in gentle scorn. 

" My dear Buncombe," he said, " why do you think 
it necessary to tell me a thing so glaringly apparent ? 
I have nothing to blame you for. It was a foolish dream 


of mine, which I shall easily outlive. For, George, this 
has been a great day for me. I believe that my time for 
dreams has gone by." 

Duncombe turned towards him with interest. 

" "What do you mean, Andrew ? " 

" I have teen to see Foudroye, the great oculist. He 
has examined my eyes carefully, and he assures me posi- 
tively that my eyesight is completely sound. In two 
months' time I shall see as well as any one 1 " 

Buncombe's voice shook with emotion. He grasped 
his friend's hand. 

" That is good — magnificent, Andrew ! " he declared. 

Their carriage rattled over the cobbled stones as they 
crossed the Square. The white mysterious dawn was 
breaking over Paris. Andrew threw his head back with 
a laugh. 

" Back into the world, George, where dreams are only 
the cobwebs of time, and a man's work grows beneath 
his hands like a living statue to the immortals. I feel 
my hands upon it, and the gi'eat winds blowing. 
Thank God 1 " 


Mr. Oppenkeim's most Romantic Novel 



Author of "A Prince of Sinners," "Anna the Adventuress," 
"Mysterious Mr. Sabin," etc. 

Illustrated by F. H. Townsend. 12mo. $1.50 

The dexterous craftsmanship in the manipulation of an 
absorbing plot that characterizes Mr. Oppenheim's work is 
here applied to the most romantic theme he has as yet con- 
ceived. The strange adventures that befel the young 
Princess of the imaginary kingdom of Bartena, and the 
significant part the mysterious " Master Mummer " plays 
in the girl's life, furnish abundant material for a fresh and 
fascinating modem romance. 

There are several English novelists of the day whose 
work may be taken on trust, if one wishes merely to be 
entertained. Among these writers are Anthony Hope, 
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imagination, which keeps the reader's interest on the 
stretch from the beginning to the end of a story, he is easily 
foremost. — San Francisco Call. 

LITTLE, BROWN, & CO., Publishers, BOSTON 
At all Booksellers' 

"A Spell-binding Creation" — Lilian Whiting 



Author of *' A Prince of Sinners," " Anna the 

Adventuress," etc. 

Illustrated. 397 pages. 12mo. $1.30 

DEALS with an intrigue of international moment — 
the fomenting of a war between Great Britain and 
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Not for long has so good a story of the kind been 
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Mr. Oppenheim possesses the magic art of narration. 

— New York Herald. 

If we forget all else in the story, we will remember Mr. 
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the thronging characters of latter-day literature. — Boston 

LITTLE, BROWN, & CO.. Publishers, BOSTON 
At ail Booksellers' 

An Ingenious Story of London Life 


Author of " A Prince of Sinners," etc. 
Illustrated. 320 pages. 12mo. $1.50 

"Two sisters, Anna and Annabel, who look alike, are the 
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to the end with excitement and interest.— ioncf on Daily 

A story of London life that is at once unusual, original, 
consistent, and delighttnl.— Buffalo Express. 

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Mr. Oppenheim has the magic gift of the story-teUer. — 
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LITTLE, BROWN, ^ CO., Publishers, BOSTON 
4t all Booksellers 

By the Author of "The Master Mummer" 



By E. PHILLIPS OPPENHEIM. lUustrated. 12mo. $1.50 
Fourth Edition 

" A well-compacted and exceedingly interesting story of 
English political and social life, making no demands upon 
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Thurston Peck, editor of The Bookman, describes what is 
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of 1903. 

" Mr. Oppenheim really got ahead of Mr. Joseph Cham- 
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Unquestionably one of the very best volumes of fiction 
of the year. — B. 0. Flower, Editor of The Arena. 

LITTLE, BROWN, iff CO., Publishees